Monday, September 8, 2008

U.S. Blogger, Gopalan Nair aka Singapore Dissident, pleads innocent, to stand trial in Singapore

US blogger pleads innocent, to stand trial in Singapore

AFP - Monday, September 8

SINGAPORE - An American blogger charged with insulting a Singapore judge pleaded innocent in court Monday and vowed to contest the allegation.

Gopalan Nair allegedly accused a judge of "prostituting herself" by being biased in favour of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, former premier Lee Kuan Yew, in a defamation case they filed against an opposition politician.

"Not guilty," Nair, who is representing himself, told the Supreme Court when asked to enter a plea after the charge was read out.

The judge, Belinda Ang, had presided over the case against Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan.

Nair, a former Singaporean lawyer who has US citizenship, allegedly wrote on his blog that she was "nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders," according to the charge read out in court.

The 10-day hearing was to have begun Monday but was adjourned for two days at Nair's request to allow him more time to prepare his defence and settle personal matters.

Nair also said he needed to arrange for money to be sent from the United States to pay a 3,000 Singapore dollar fine (2,117 US) issued against him in another case.

Nair was found guilty last Friday for abusive behaviour against two police officers and disorderly behaviour.

Under Singapore law, Nair faces a jail term of up to one year and a 5,000 Singapore dollar fine if found guilty of insulting a public servant.

Nair was to have faced a second charge of insulting another judge, but the state prosecutor told the court the charge would be "stood down." A legal expert said this means that charge would be heard separately.

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