British author freed from Singapore prison, off to London

SINGAPORE Sat Jul 9, 2011 6:03am BST

British author Alan Shadrake shows victory signs as he arrives at the Supreme Court in Singapore in this July 30, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

British author Alan Shadrake shows victory signs as he arrives at the Supreme Court in Singapore in this July 30, 2010 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A British author who spent about five weeks in a Singapore prison after being convicted of contempt of court has been freed and has left the city-state, his lawyer said on Saturday.

Alan Shadrake, 76 was sentenced to six weeks in jail and fined S$20,000 (10,000 pounds) for scandalising the judiciary in his book "Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice System in the Dock" about the use of the death penalty.

Shadrake could not pay the fine, which increased his jail sentence to eight weeks but M. Ravi, who represented Shadrake in the court, said the author was released early due to good behaviour.

"He is on a plane, going to London," said Ravi, adding that Shadrake had been treated at the prison hospital for a slipped disc.

Wealthy Singapore, an island-nation of 5.1 million people, imposes the death penalty for crimes such as murder and has a mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking. It boasts of one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

The Southeast Asian city-state has, however, been criticised for its harsh laws and use of lawsuits against some of its critics. Authorities say such lawsuits are necessary to protect the reputation of government leaders.

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar, editing by Miral Fahmy)