Court upholds Anwar Ibrahim sodomy conviction, rules out conspiracy at PMO

Anwar, a rising star and deemed political successor of Mahathir Mohammed, was sensationally arrested in 1998.

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Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to the media his final appeal against a conviction for sodomy concluded at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya November 7, 2014. Reuters

Malaysia's Federal Court threw out the final appeal by jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim against conviction in a sodomy case and upheld that there was no conspiracy between the Prime Minister's office and a panel of judges.

Anwar, the former deputy prime minister who famously fell out with ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and ended up in jail over sodomy, launched a final bid to overturn a five-and-a-half year jail term saying that the prime minister's office had released a statement over his conviction too swiftly to look normal. However, the court held that the suggestion of any wrong doing by the government and judiciary was not substantiated by any proof.

"There is no evidence to show that there was any communication whatsoever between PMO and the Federal Court either prior or subsequent to the decision of the case," Chief Judge of the High Court of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said, according to the Malay Mail.

The court said there was no merit in the argument that the PMO statement had given an impression that Anwar did not receive a fair and independent hearing at the trail or that that the verdict was influenced anyone.

The court also declined to comment on the propriety of the government issuing a statement on Anwar's conviction immediately after the court's decision on February 10, 2015. "As a separate branch of the government, the judiciary and the courts operate independently in their decision making process with no interference from other branches of the government," the judge said.

In court, Anwar had submitted that the PMO statement came even before his own lawyers got the details of the verdict and that this suggested he did not receive a fair and independent hearing.

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Anwar is serving a five years' jail sentence after he was found guilty of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008. In 2015, the Federal Court upheld his conviction by a lower court in 2014.

Anwar, who was a rising star in Malaysian politics and a deemed political successor of Mahathir Mohammed, was sensationally arrested in 1998 on corruption and sodomy charges. The arrest followed a bitter fallout with his mentor and this triggered speculations of poetical vendetta.

He was sentenced to six years imprisonment in 1999, a sentence that literally snuffed out his promising political career. The noose around Anwar's neck tightened as the sentence was revised to nine years the following year.

He was released from solitary imprisonment after the Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdict in 2004. Anwar confronted his former mentor Mahathir politically with his multi-party Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance but his elected political career could not be revived as Malaysian law prevented anyone who served more than one year in prison for a criminal offence from holding elected office for five years.

Anwar was arrested a second time in July 2008, after a former political aide revealed Anwar had consensual sex with him. Following lengthy court proceedings, he was convicted in 2014.

"This is not the end of the road ... I have pleaded and reiterated my innocence, but the judiciary has ignored my pleas .. This is a long walk to freedom," Anwar said after the verdict.