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Amos Yee invokes court process to decide on trial position

SINGAPORE — After several false starts, the first day of blogger Amos Yee’s trial yesterday was adjourned for the 17-year-old to use a court process that helps accused persons consider whether to claim trial or plead guilty.

Amos Yee invokes court process to decide on trial position

Amos Yee (left) and his mother arriving at the State Court yesterday. He objected to a joint hearing for the two sets of offences he was charged with, but was overruled. PHOTO: Robin Choo

SINGAPORE — After several false starts, the first day of blogger Amos Yee’s trial yesterday was adjourned for the 17-year-old to use a court process that helps accused persons consider whether to claim trial or plead guilty.

He had earlier objected to a joint hearing for the two sets of offences he has been charged with.

When he was overruled, Amos told the court he would like the prosecution’s seven witnesses to testify orally, rather than through written statements.

Then, as his hearing was about to kick off, he told a judge he was “thinking of taking a certain course of action”.

Amos, who was not represented at his hearing yesterday, asked to go for Criminal Case Resolution (CCR), a court process where an accused person may ask for an indication of his possible sentences in a closed-door meeting with prosecutors that is presided over by a senior district judge.

CCR was started in 2011 to minimise wastage of court resources. It provides a neutral platform for parties to explore the possibilities of early resolution of criminal cases, instead of waiting until a trial starts.

When District Judge Lim Tse Haw asked why he had not brought up his request during his pre-trial conference, Amos said he only learnt about CCR through “sheer luck” while he was doing research.

He was given the go-ahead to attend a CCR session this morning, following which he would decide if he would want to continue to claim trial.

Amos faces six charges of wounding the religious feelings of Muslims and Christians and two counts of flouting an order to show up at a police station for investigations. Both sets of charges relate to content he posted online between November last year and May this year.

Amos argued that the nature of the two sets of charges are different and he would not have a fair trial if they are heard together.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi countered that the alleged offences happened close together and were linked.

Amos was convicted of similar offences last year and was sentenced to four weeks’ jail. But he was released on the same day as the sentence was backdated to include his time in remand.

If convicted of deliberately wounding the religious feelings of others, Amos could be jailed up to three years and fined. For failing to turn up at the police station in spite of an order, he could be jailed up to a month and fined up to S$1,500.

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