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US blogger pleads not guilty to insulting Singapore judge

[JURIST] US blogger and attorney Gopalan Nair [personal blog; law firm profile] appeared in the Singaporean Supreme Court [official website] Monday and pleaded not guilty to insulting a public servant. Nair is on trial for 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. 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. After Nair entered his plea, the trial was adjourned until later this week. AFP has more.

Nair faces another trial on a charge of insulting a second judge. He is also appealing his conviction [Straits Times report] last week on charges of disorderly conduct and using abusive words toward police officers. Before becoming a US citizen, Nair was a Singaporean opposition politician, having run for office in 1991 as a member of the Workers' Party [party website]. 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. Singapore's Ministry of Law responded that the group was biased in its assessment and that the country had already responded to such concerns.

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