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Singapore 18 September 2008

Blogger Gopalan Nair gets three months in prison for insulting judge

Gopolan Nair was sentenced in the lower court to three months in prison. It is not the harshest penalty for “insult” under Article 228 of the criminal code but the severest sentence under Chapter 228 on insult and physical injury under the Emergency Act. Gopolan Nair faced one year in prison and a 5,000 dollars fine

Reporters Without Borders condemns the three-month prison sentence which a Singapore court imposed yesterday on blogger Gopalan Nair for insulting a high court judge in a blog entry. A Singaporean lawyer who became a US citizen in 2005, Nair plans to file an appeal on 20 September, the day he is due to begin serving his prison sentence.

“This sentence is disproportionate,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Nair was given the severest sentence possible under the criminal code for insult. We urge the judicial authorities to be reasonable and to reverse this decision to send a blogger to prison.”

Nair’s trial under article 228 of the criminal code began on 10 September. He defended himself.

During the first hearing, Nair denied allegations that he had sent emails to Belinda Ang, the high court judge he was accused of insulting, and to another judge. “What I wrote on my blog is addressed to the whole world,” he said. He also accused the police of taking his notebook containing the password to his email account and blog.

Nair, 58, was arrested in Singapore on 31 May under article 13 (d) of the Miscellaneous offences Act) and was charged four days later with “sedition” ( for criticising Ang and another judge, Lai Siew Chiu, for their handling of a defamation case that resulted in Chee Soon Juan, the head of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, spending 12 days in prison (and his sister, Siok Chin, spending 10 days in prison).

Nair was freed on bail on 5 June pending trial. His blog is still accessible in Singapore.

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