Amos Yee's case sent back for trial to continue

Yee arriving at the courthouse yesterday. He had allegedly posted a photo and five videos, some of which show him insulting the Bible and the Quran.
Yee arriving at the courthouse yesterday. He had allegedly posted a photo and five videos, some of which show him insulting the Bible and the Quran.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

No resolution at the session to resolve case without trial, which was requested by accused

Teen blogger Amos Yee's trial resumed yesterday, a day after it was adjourned even before the first prosecution witness was called.

On Wednesday, the trial was adjourned after the case was sent, at Yee's request, for a criminal case resolution (CCR), an avenue for resolving a case without trial.

Yee, 17, had at first opted to contest all his eight charges, including six for intending to wound the feelings of Muslims or Christians. He had allegedly posted a photo and five videos, some of which show him insulting the Bible and the Quran.

The teen, who has no lawyer, had also said he wanted to cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses.

But shortly after the start of the trial on Wednesday, he told District Judge Lim Tse Haw that he wanted "to take a certain course", which is legal parlance indicating that he was considering pleading guilty.

Yee, 17, had at first opted to contest all his eight charges, including six for intending to wound the feelings of Muslims or Christians... But shortly after the start of the trial on Wednesday, he told District Judge Lim Tse Haw that he wanted "to take a certain course", which is legal parlance indicating that he was considering pleading guilty.

The judge fixed the case for a CCR, in which the accused can ask for an indication of his possible sentences. But with no resolution at the closed-door CCR session yesterday, the case was sent back for the trial to continue.

At the start of yesterday's hearing, Yee asked for a two-month adjournment, saying he had received the list of witnesses and exhibits only on Wednesday and needed time to prepare his case. Judge Lim did not accede to the request, but said he would give Yee time to prepare questions for cross-examination later.

The case was adjourned - after two witnesses took the stand - for the next tranche of the trial, fixed for next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Yee, who sat beside his mother Mary Toh, who is helping him conduct his defence, did not deny that he had made the photo and videos.

Two police technology forensic officers, who had gathered information relating to the charges, took the witness stand yesterday. One had extracted data from more than 100 webpages, such as blogs and social media sites.

Yee had no questions for the officer, apart from asking why the webpages were relevant to his charges.

The officer said he had acted on instructions from an investigator, who will testify at a later date.

Besides the six charges, Yee faces two of failing to report to Jurong Police Division for investigations.

Reports were lodged over online remarks that Yee made last year, and the police issued a notice last December ordering him to report for investigations. But he allegedly failed to do so, leaving the country shortly after and returning only in April.

When he returned, he was served with a magistrate's order to report again at Jurong Police Division, but he purportedly did not comply.

On May 11, he was arrested and then bailed out by his mother.

The prosecution will call a total of seven witnesses, all police officers.

The maximum penalty for deliberately wounding the religious feelings of any person is three years' jail and a fine; for failing to present oneself pursuant to a notice or order from a public servant, it is one month's jail and a $1,500 fine.

Yee uploaded an expletive-laden video days after the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew last year. He was sentenced in July last year to four weeks' jail.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2016, with the headline 'Amos Yee's case sent back for trial to continue'. Print Edition | Subscribe