Amos Yee trial: Court decision expected next Tuesday

Amos Yee trial: Court decision expected next Tuesday

AFTER a two-hour hearing yesterday before a courtroom filled with onlookers, teenage blogger Amos Yee was told that he would find out his fate next Tuesday.

The 16-year-old had pleaded not guilty to uploading an obscene image and intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in a YouTube video. But the prosecution, calling it a "simple" case, urged that he be convicted on both charges.

"The defence says the image is not obscene, but it plainly is," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun. "The defence says the accused did not deliberately intend to wound the religious feelings of Christians but he plainly did."

The image in question that Yee posted on March 28 was an illustration of two people having sex, on which he superimposed the images of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

One of Yee's three lawyers, Mr Ervin Tan, argued that for an image to be obscene, it has to have a tendency to "deprave and corrupt" those who see it. But this was not the case here.

"The image is a line drawing which the accused found online. There is no colour, no facial features, and no genitals depicted. It simply shows the shape of two humans in what appears to be a sexual position."

The original image that Yee used is the type used by magazines such as Women's Health to educate its readers, he added.

Instead, he argued that the main complaints with the image were that it was in poor taste and its timing was insensitive, coming so soon after Mr Lee's death.

But DPP Hay argued that the image - a gratuitous depiction of sexual activity - was used as nothing more than a joke to make fun of others. And measured against the "acceptable boundaries of public morality", the sexual act that was depicted - when not for scientific, educational or medical purposes - had the tendency to corrupt or deprave viewers.

As for the video that was posted on March 27, defence lawyer Chong Jia Hao pointed out that no Christian leader has stepped forward to complain. Instead, he highlighted how police reports lodged against Yee focused on the hurt caused by the way he had criticised Mr Lee.

The lawyer also argued that "Section 298 (of the Penal Code) is not a blasphemy law", and that it has to allow for legitimate and even robust criticism of religion.

But DPP Hay argued that Yee's comments went far beyond fair discussion. He "was offering, under the guise of critical discussion, intentional insults (against Christianity)... exacerbated by a mocking tone...", he said.

And he pointed out that not only has Yee refused to take down the offensive posts, but he has also clearly admitted in his police statement that they were "offensive and promoted ill-will and hostility among Singaporeans".

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