British author denies intention to insult Singapore courts

SINGAPORE, Aug 18, 2010 (AFP) - A British author facing charges for publishing a book on the death penalty in Singapore said it was never his intention to scandalise the judiciary, a court document showed Wednesday.

Freelance journalist Alan Shadrake, 75, who penned "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock," described himself in an affidavit filed with the High Court as a "strong believer in the need to abolish the death penalty".

But he said "it was never and is not my intention to scandalise the judiciary in Singapore," according to the affidavit obtained by AFP.

The document was filed last week and forms part of Shadrake's defence in a contempt of court case.

Shadrake, who divides his time between neighbouring Malaysia and Britain, is also facing a separate charge of criminal defamation.

Both offences are punishable by jail and fines.

His 219-page book contains a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Singapore's Changi Prison who, according to the author, executed around 1,000 men and women from 1959 until he retired in 2006.

It also features interviews with local human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers on various cases involving capital punishment.

Shadrake is out on bail but his passport has been impounded to prevent him from leaving the country.

He appeared in court for the first time on July 30, and the case will be heard again on August 30.

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