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Anwar’s sodomy conviction upheld by Malaysia court

Anwar’s sodomy conviction  upheld by Malaysia court
Malaysia’s highest court on Tuesday upheld a five-year jail sentence of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim holding him guilty of sodomising a former aide in 2008, stymieing the ex-deputy premier’s political ambitions.

Chief Justice Arfin Zakaria, who chaired a five-member bench, made the ruling after the court convicted 67-year-old Anwar of the offence, capping a long and divisive trial.

Earlier, the court ruled that there was overwhelming evidence that 30-year-old Mohammed Saiful was sodomised by Anwar, a father of six children and grandfather of five. “We agree with the Court of Appeal that the case was proven beyond reasonable doubt,” Arifin said before dismissing Anwar’s final appeal. Anwar was calm as he hugged his family members and supporters in court. Some including his daughters were crying.

On January 9, 2012, the Kuala Lumpur High Court acquitted Anwar of having sex with Saiful at Desa Damansara Condominium in Kuala lumpur suburb of Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008. The court had ruled that the samples could have been compromised before they reached the Chemistry Department for analysis.

A total of 27 prosecution witnesses, including Saiful and eight defence witnesses, including Anwar, testified in the course of the nearly three-year trial. However, the Court of Appeal reversed the acquittal on March 7 last year and sentenced Anwar to five years in jail, ruling that the lower court had erred in its finding that the integrity of the DNA samples in the case was compromised. “I am alright,” Anwar said as he hugged his supporters in court and shook hands with his lead counsel Gopal Sri Ram and other counsels.

The verdict brings to an end a seven-year court saga. It also meant that Anwar could not file his nomination papers for the Kajang state seat by-election on March 10. Anwar had always maintained that the charges were false.

Today’s verdict marks the second time the opposition PKR party de facto leader has been convicted of sodomy. In August 2000, Anwar was sentenced by the High Court to nine years in jail for sodomising his family’s driver, Azizan Abu Bakar. The conviction was overturned in 2004.

Anwar was the ruling coalition party Barisan Nasional’s rising star in the mid-1990s before he fell out with then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He was deputy premier and finance minister but after his ouster from the cabinet he was burdened by legal problems. Minutes after the court’s ruling, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government called on all parties involved to respect the judgement.

“The judges will have reached their verdict only after considering all the evidence in a balanced and objective manner. Malaysia has an independent judiciary, and there have been many rulings against senior government figures,” a government statement said.
Agencies

Agencies

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