Blogger Amos Yee to claim trial to 8 charges

Teen blogger Amos Yee was back in court yesterday, a year after he made the news for uploading an obscene image on his blog and for making remarks to hurt the feelings of Christians in a YouTube video.

This time, the 17-year-old faces six charges of intending to wound the feelings of Muslims or Christians - via five videos and a photo - and two counts of failing to report to the Jurong Police Division for investigations.

The alleged offences were committed between November last year and earlier this month.

Yee, who did not have a lawyer, told District Judge Ronald Gwee he intends to claim trial. A pre-trial conference has been fixed for Monday. He is out on $5,000 bail.

Yee, who sported shoulder-length hair and wore a khaki T-shirt and white trousers, left the court with his mother, Madam Mary Toh, and Reform Party secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

After reports were lodged over online remarks he made last year, the police issued a notice in December ordering Yee to report for investigations.

But he failed to do so. He left the country shortly after and remained overseas until last month.

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

He was arrested two weeks ago and bailed out of police custody by his mother the same day. While out on bail, he allegedly posted the last offending video.

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

Yee first came to the attention of the authorities when he uploaded an expletive-laden video on March 27 last year, four days after the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Yee later also posted an obscene image on his blog.

He was convicted on May 12 last year and sentenced on July 6 to four weeks' jail. He was released the same day as the punishment was backdated to include his time in remand; he had spent about 50 days in prison after repeatedly breaching bail conditions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2016, with the headline 'Blogger Amos Yee to claim trial to 8 charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe