Teenage blogger Amos Yee back on trial on eight charges

Teen blogger Amos Yee, arrives at the State Courts claimed trial to eight charges with a deliberate intent to wound religious or racial feelings, and for not showing up at a police station.
Teen blogger Amos Yee, arrives at the State Courts claimed trial to eight charges with a deliberate intent to wound religious or racial feelings, and for not showing up at a police station.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Teenage blogger Amos Yee's trial resumed again on Thursday (Aug 18).

The case went for a Criminal Case Resolution (CCR) process earlier in the morning, before being sent back for hearing.

On Wednesday (Aug 17), Yee, 17, who does not have a lawyer, had opted to contest all of his eight charges. He had also said he wanted to cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses.

But shortly after entering his plea, and before the first witness was called, he told District Judge Lim Tse Haw that he was considering pleading guilty and wanted to attend a CCR.

The judge then fixed the case for a CCR, which provides a neutral forum, facilitated by a senior judge, for parties to consider early resolution of criminal cases. It aims to save resources by reducing the chances of an accused person pleading guilty on the day of the trial or once it has started.

But with no resolution achieved, the hearing then continued later on Thursday morning.

Yee faces six charges of intending to wound the feelings of Muslims or Christians and two of failing to report to the Jurong Police Division for investigations.

The alleged crimes were committed between November last year and May this year.

Yee is said to have posted one photo and five offensive videos, some of which show him insulting the Bible and Quran.

Dressed in an orange T-shirt and a pair of beige cargo trousers, Yee sat in court beside his mother Mary Toh who is helping him conduct his defence.

The prosecution has prepared a total of seven witnesses, all police officers, to testify.

Reports had been lodged over online remarks he made last year, and the police issued a notice in December ordering Yee to report for investigations.

But he allegedly failed to do so. He left the country shortly after and remained overseas until 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 of police custody by his mother.

The maximum punishment 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 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 he had spent about 50 days in prison after breaching bail conditions.