Not only was Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim sentenced to five years in prison for sodomy, he was also barred from politics by the country’s highest court.
This recent Federal Court ruling imposed by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria has effectively brought Ibrahim’s ability to challenge the country’s ruling party to an end, Bloomberg indicated in a report which quoted him as having said during his sentencing that he maintains his innocence and that “this is a political conspiracy.”
I maintain my innocence and this is a political conspiracy
The defendant appeared before a panel of five judges, all of whom walked out of the courtroom while Anwar berated the judiciary following his sentencing.
The 67-year-old political leader will be stripped of his parliamentary seat and banned for five years from running for office following his release from prison, according to Human Rights Watch.
Inside the courtroom, the former deputy prime minister’s children cried after the verdict and sentence were announced. Police then escorted him away as he hugged his aides and party leaders.
Outside the courtroom where he was sentenced, hundreds of riot police equipped with riot shields and batons sounded warning bells as thousands of supporters of the opposition leader refused to leave the complex while chanting “Reformasi,” which translates into the word reform in the Malay language.
While standing in the dock, he slammed the verdict as what he called the “murder of judicial independence,” CTV News reported.
Last year, an appeals court overturned his 2012 acquittal on the charge of sodomy and sentenced him to five years in jail. He was first charged with the crime, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison in the country, back in 1998 when charges were brought a month after he was fired from the position of deputy to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as a result of a falling out over the Malaysian government’s response to the financial crisis in Asia.
After he was charged in 1998, he spent the next six years imprisoned on charges of allegedly sodomizing male aides and abuse of power, charges for which he was released in 2004 after the Prime Minister retired and a judge overturned the guilty verdict. In March of 2014, the Court of Appeal ruled that the judge who had overturned his conviction had erred in doubting the integrity of the DNA evidence presented by the prosecution, subsequently reinstating the conviction.
Anwar’s current case, which he was initially cleared of back in January of 2012, is derived from allegations of sodomizing another male aide back in 2008.
As this was Anwar’s final appeal, he will be sent to prison immediately.
He addressed the panel of Federal Court judges, saying that they had become “partners in crime in the murder of judicial independence,” which promoted the judges to stand up and walk out as one of them said he didn’t “need to hear all this.” The recently sentenced continued speaking as he said that he would “not be silenced” and that he would continue to fight “for freedom and justice” without ever surrendering.
Allah be my witness. I pledge that I will not be silenced. I will fight on for freedom and justice. I will never surrender.
Do you think Anwar Ibrahim is guilty of sodomy or the victim of a political conspiracy?