Malaysian opposition leader acquitted in sodomy case

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 9 (IANS) A Malaysian high court has acquitted Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy charge, capping almost two-year-long trial proceedings.

The 64-year-old former deputy prime minister was charged with sodomising his 26-year-old former assistant, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, at a condominium unit in Kuala Lumpur in June 2008, Xinhua reported.

Delivering the verdict, Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah said the evidence was compromised and the container supposedly holding Anwar’s DNA was disputable.

The court could not convict Anwar based on uncorroborated evidence in a criminal offence, he added.

Reacting over the verdict, Anwar said: ‘I am grateful for the verdict.’

‘However, it is too early to celebrate because the prosecution may appeal the decision. Nonetheless I will fight on against the injustice and the system that suppresses the people,’ he added.

The trial had started Feb 3 in 2010.

Anwar had repeatedly said that the charge was set up to destroy his political career.

Prime Minister Najib Razak denied the claims.

Anwar was appointed deputy prime minister in 1993, but was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison on corruption charges in 1999 and to nine more years on sodomy charges in 2000. He was released in 2004 after the charges were reviewed.

This was the second time Anwar was charged with sodomy. In the March 2008 elections, he forged an opposition alliance that won 88 seats in parliament and wrested control of four states, but was again charged with sodomy that year.

Reacting over the court’s latest decision, Malaysia’s Information Minister Rais Yatim said: ‘The Malaysia judiciary has spoken. It has been heard and we must respect the decision. The verdict of a case such as the one we encountered is a testy decision.’

Deputy public prosecutor Noreen Badaruddin, however, said her team would consult the attorney general.