Malaysia's Anwar makes final appeal in sodomy case

2014-10-28 12:41
Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. (File: AFP)

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Putrajaya - Malaysia's top court on Tuesday began hearing a final appeal filed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim against a sodomy conviction widely regarded as a means to neutralise the threat he poses to the country's ruling coalition.

Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison in March on charges of sodomising a male aide in 2008 after Malaysia's appeals court overturned an earlier acquittal.

"I am confident of winning the case if we have judicial independence," the 67-year-old said before entering the Federal Court, where around 200 of his supporters had gathered. "I'm mentally prepared, but I don't have much hope."

Critics and independent human rights activists say the case against Anwar is the latest salvo in a long-running campaign by Malaysia's coalition government to silence its most potent threat. The US government and other Western governments have expressed concerns over his treatment.

"This trial is so unjust," Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, said outside the courtroom. "We hope and pray that justice will be served, not just for Anwar but for all Malaysians."

Sodomy, even consensual, is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Tensions

If he loses the appeal, Anwar would also be banned from running for office for five years from the day he is released from jail.

Prosecutor Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said a ruling would not come until at least on Thursday.

Anwar was previously imprisoned for six years after being ousted as deputy prime minister in 1998 on earlier charges of sodomizing his former family driver and abusing his power. He was freed in 2004 after the Federal Court quashed that sodomy conviction.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's political party has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957, but faces declining support.

A guilty verdict could weaken the opposition and trigger tensions over who should head it.

Anwar led a three-party alliance to unprecedented gains in 2008 elections and made further inroads in 2013 polls. Najib's National Front coalition won with a slimmer majority and lost the popular vote to the opposition.

"Malaysia's sodomy law seems to exist chiefly to persecute Anwar Ibrahim," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "This drawn-out political theatre has long been exposed as an attempt by the government to take Malaysia's most senior opposition leader out of political contention."

Read more on:    anwar ibrahim  |  najib razak  |  malaysia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.