Five judges in Malaysia’s highest court today upheld the conviction of the country’s former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges.
The man who is the country’s leading opposition figure will be going back to jail for five years.
The prosecution had appealed for a harsher punishment, but the federal court judges maintained the Appeal Court sentence.
The conviction disqualifies Anwar from political office and contesting the next election, which must be held by 2018. This was his last avenue for appeal.
Anwar says the case against him was fabricated by his political enemies. He has already spent two years in political detention and six years in prison after an earlier conviction on corruption and sodomy charges.
He said he would accept the decision and remain patient. “I maintain my innocence and that it is a political conspiracy to stop me.”
The judges chose to leave the bench when Anwar said they had bowed to their political masters.
Anwar vowed that he would not surrender and would continue to fight for justice and freedom.
Human Rights Watch condemned the judges’ ruling, calling it a travesty of justice.
In its original judgment, the Court of Appeal had found Anwar guilty of sodomising his former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, in 2008 and imposed a five-year prison sentence. Anwar was then acquitted by the High Court in 2012, but the Appeal Court overturned the decision last year.
Today, Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria said the judges agreed with the prosecution statement that Saiful was a reliable and truthful person and there was overwhelming evidence against Anwar.
He stated that the Evidence Act did not require corroboration in the case of sexual offences.
Full article to come.