Sodomy Charges Land Former Malaysian Deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim 5 Years Prison Term (VIDEOS)
By Vittorio Hernandez | March 8, 2014 2:09 AM EST
Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is greeted by his supporters as he arrives for the "Free Anwar" rally in Kuala Lumpur.
Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and current Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced on Friday to five years prison term on charges of sodomy.
The decision by the country's appeals court, in effect, overturned a lower court's acquittal of Mr Anwar and could affect his chances of winning a state assembly seat in the later part of March which could make him chief minister of Selangor, the richest state in Malaysia.
The conviction would likely ban Mr Anwar from running for the coveted seat.
The 66-year-old politician insisted the charges were politically motivated. His lawyers said they are preparing for mitigation and would elevate the case to the Federal Court.
Evidences submitted in the sodomy case against Mr Ibrahim included a mattress stained with his sperm. In 1993, he was found guilty of engaging in anal sex with his family driver Azizan Abu Bakar, but the conviction was overturned and he was released in 2004 after serving a separate six-year term for corruption.
Sodomy is not allowed in Islam, except for Jihad.
Despite those charges, the former deputy PM led the Opposition in the 2008 election. Another former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, filed another sodomy charge against Mr Anwar, which led him to seek refuge at the diplomatic mission of Turkey in Kuala Lumpur.
After a two-year trial, the court declared him in 2012 innocent of the second sodomy charge against Mr Anwar due to the DNA evidence submitted being unreliable.
YouTube/Al Jazeera in English
Observers agree with the former PM that the charges were politically motivated. Ibrahim Suffian, director of independent pollster Merdeka Center, said, quoted by The Wall Street Journal, "Going by the speed at which the trial was conducted, certainly gives the impression that it is politically motivated."
Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, said, quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald, "This was a politically motivated trial that was all about knocking Anwar Ibrahim out of politics and the government was prepared to do whatever it took to make that happen."
An angry Mr Anwar shouted to the judges of the Kuala Lumpur Court of Appeal: "You have got what you wanted."
Mr Anwar was allowed bail of 10,000 Malaysian ringgit.
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