Singapore court sentences US blogger to 3 months for insulting judge

[JURIST] US blogger and attorney Gopalan Nair [personal blog; law firm profile] was sentenced to three months in jail Wednesday for insulting a Singaporean judge. Justice Kan Ting Chiu of the Singaporean High Court [official website] told Nair that he had "scandalized" the nation's judiciary by accusing a judge of "prostituting herself" [blog entry] in a defamation case brought by former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew [official profile] against the Singapore Democratic Party. Nair, who pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges earlier this month, said he had no regrets about what he had written. Reporters Without Borders [advocacy website] on Thursday condemned the sentence [press release] as "disproportionate." The group said Nair plans to appeal by Saturday, when he is scheduled to begin serving his sentence. AFP has more. The Straits Times has local coverage.

Under a provision of the Singaporean Penal Code [text], insulting a public servant conducting a judicial proceeding is punishable by up to one year in prison, a $5,000 fine or both. Nair faces another trial on a charge of insulting a second judge. He is also appealing a conviction [Straits Times report] on charges of disorderly conduct and using abusive words toward police officers. Before becoming a US citizen, Nair was a Singaporean opposition politician. In July, a report by the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) concluded [JURIST report] that Singapore [JURIST news archive] lacks an independent judiciary and fails to meet international standards of human rights by heavily regulating international and domestic press and enforcing extreme defamation laws.

 

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