KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyers have formally sent the Malaysian government a request to release him from prison.
Lawyers N Surendran and Latheefa Koya said they had explained that there was “overwhelming reasons” for the de facto PKR leader to be out of jail in their application to the Home Ministry and Commissioner General of Prisons Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar.
Among the reasons stated are Anwar has completed more than half of his sentence, a United Nations body’s finding and his role as the lynchpin for the Pakatan Harapan Opposition pact.
“Anwar has also already served more than two years in prison. We therefore urge the Home Minister and Commissioner General to act expeditiously and order Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s release without any further delay,” the lawyers said in a statement today.
The application was made under the provisions of Section 43 of the Prisons Act 1995, which gives the Commissioner General power to “release upon licence any person serving a sentence of imprisonment.”
Anwar, a former deputy prime minister-turned-Opposition leader was charged with sodomising his then aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008, but was acquitted after a long trial in 2012.
However, the government appealed the acquittal and he was later convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for five years from February 2015.
Convicts in Malaysia are typically allowed a remittance of their prison terms, in which one-third of their sentence is taken off and they are given early release.
This would mean that Anwar ― who has already spent around one year and 10 months in prison ― could be freed by early next year, instead of having to serve the entire five-year jail term until 2020.
The Pakatan Harapan pact has maintained that Anwar is their leader and choice for prime minister if they defeat the ruling Barisan Nasional in the 14th general elections, which must be held by August 2018 though speculation is rife that it may be called this year.