‘Black day’ for Malaysia as top court convicts Anwar for sodomy again, activists say

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's supporters gathering outside the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, February 10, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's supporters gathering outside the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, February 10, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — Human rights activists denounced today the Federal Court’s decision to uphold Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy conviction in what many claim to be a “politically-motivated” case, saying Malaysia’s image and that of its judiciary is now dented.

Suaram executive director K Arumugam said the Federal Court’s ruling today that upheld the appellate court’s 2014 guilty verdict  was “shocking” and would also cast doubt on the judiciary’s credibility.

“It’s a shocking decision. A disgraceful conclusion of the politically motivated trial.

“It is a black day for Malaysia and its judiciary. This verdict will tarnish the credibility of our justice system and the country’s international image,” the head of the local human rights watchdog told Malay Mail Online in a text message in an immediate response.

Arumugam further claimed the decision allegedly “reflects the insecurity of the government to uphold rule of law and democracy, respect for fundamental liberties and human rights”.

Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson similarly called the trial against the 67-year-old politician’s second sodomy case “politically motivated”, saying that “It really is a sad day for Malaysia’s democracy and human rights”.

“The entire government prosecution against Anwar Ibrahim has been politically motivated from the start and this is a major blow for human rights in Malaysia.

“It is something that the world community will not understand and Malaysia in the days and weeks ahead will likely face the full fury of the international community stunned by the conviction of a political opposition leader for a crime that many people in the world do not consider to be a crime,” the group’s Asia division deputy director told Malay Mail Online.

Robertson, who was sitting in the courtroom when the judgment was read out, said the Federal Court panel had “systematically dismissed and discredited every single argument by Anwar’s lawyers and did so in almost dogmatic fashion”.

The Federal Court’s decision today upholding an earlier Court of Appeal ruling that had reversed Anwar’s acquittal of sodomising Saiful effectively ends the opposition leader’s legal options to challenge the conviction.

He now stands to lose his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat as the law bars anyone fined over RM2,000 or imprisoned more than one year from serving as a lawmaker.

The decision also leaves the PR federal opposition pact without a leader.

The Federal Court is set to decide this afternoon on the sentencing for Anwar.

Under Section 377B of the Penal Code, Anwar faces a maximum 20-year jail term and is also liable to whipping.

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