Second pre-trial conference for bloggers' case

Second pre-trial conference for bloggers' case
Alex Au, a blogger.

SINAGPORE- A second pre-trial conference (PTC) for the contempt of court case against sociopolitical blogger Alex Au Wai Pang was yesterday fixed for March 5.

This follows an application that has been made by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to the Court of Appeal, which will be heard in the week of Feb 24.

In this application, the AGC cited "public interest" in asking the apex court to assess if they have sufficient basis to proceed against the 61-year-old for an Oct 12 article on his Yawning Bread blog.

This is notwithstanding High Court Justice Belinda Ang's decision last month to deny permission for the AGC to proceed for the Oct 12 article. But she gave AGC the green light to do so for an earlier post dated Oct 5.

A closed-door PTC, presided over by Senior Assistant Registrar Wendy Yap, was held yesterday in respect to the earlier article.

Mr Au's lawyer Peter Low told The Straits Times that the move to schedule another PTC in March is "pending the decision at the Court of Appeal, in case there are any consequential procedural matters that have to be attended to".

He added that if the AGC succeeds at the Court of Appeal, the AGC will likely "apply for both cases to be heard together".

In the first article, titled 377 Wheels Come Off Supreme Court's Best-Laid Plans, Mr Au is alleged to have accused the Supreme Court of "deliberately manipulating hearing dates".

In the second article, titled Church Sacks Employee And Sues Government - On One Ground Right, On Another Ground Wrong, Mr Au is said to have accused the judiciary of being incapable of making independent judgments.

Both articles remain online.

In a media statement on Tuesday, the AGC had said: "It is in the public interest that the law in this area is clear, so that there is clarity on what material is, and what material is not, in contempt of court." It said that court rules "expressly permit" an application to be made at the Court of Appeal if permission has been refused by the High Court.

Mr Low's office on Tuesday sent a letter to the AGC, asking for papers related to the Court of Appeal application and to clarify various matters. The AGC yesterday confirmed that the letter has been received.


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