Last edited: November 06, 2004

Anwar Appeals for Fair Verdict

Associated Press, July 18, 2000

By Sean Yoong, Associated Press Writer

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim ended his yearlong trial for sodomy Tuesday with a plea to the judge to render a fair verdict in the case, which Anwar once more contended was part of conspiracy to destroy him.

"We must be guided by the law, evidence and dictates of our conscience," Anwar, Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister, told High Court Judge Ariffin Jaka.

Ariffin, who throughout the trial has been rejected Anwar’s conspiracy arguments, replied: "I will judge this case from the evidence, as I perceive it, so don’t worry. I am not easily swayed. Being a Muslim, I am answerable in the next world."

"Now, my headache starts," remarked Ariffin, and he set an Aug. 4 date to deliver his verdict.

Anwar wrapped up his own closing arguments, which he began Monday, contending that the sodomy charges against him were part of a political conspiracy to eliminate him as a rival to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Azizah Ismail, Anwar’s wife and leader of the National Justice Party that was founded on his calls for national reform, said it was unlikely that street protests would erupt when the verdict is announced, as they did when Anwar was arrested two years ago.

"We might not see any demonstrations on that day," Azizah said. "People will choose to support my husband in spirit."

Anwar was heir apparent to Mahathir when he was abruptly sacked in September 1998, then jailed on charges of corruption and sodomy. Anwar is already serving six years in prison for a corruption conviction and faces 20 more if found guilty of sodomizing his former family driver.

Anwar, 52, is accused of sodomizing Azizan Abu Bakar in early 1993 at an apartment owned by Anwar’s adopted brother, Sukma Dermawan. Prosecutors relied almost entirely on Azizan’s testimony.

Anwar attacked the prosecution for building a case without corroboration and called Mahathir, who marked 19 years in power Sunday, the "maestro in the entire scheme."

"I’ve contended that there was adequate motive to keep me dismissed and charged and convicted," Anwar said.

"I did not go to the apartment between January and March 1993," Anwar declared. "Secondly, I did not commit the offense as alleged. No evidence was ever adduced by the prosecution that I was ever seen at that place. Where are the records?"

The references to a conspiracy drew interruptions from the judge, who stopped taking notes. "You said that," Ariffin interjected at one point. "We all know that."

Differences between Mahathir and Anwar became open during the Asian economic crisis, which erupted in 1997. A year later, they had grown so wide that Mahathir fired him.

Anwar gained sympathy when the sacking was followed by criminal charges and a beating by the national police chief. Street protest has died out, but a new opposition coalition made gains against Mahathir’s National Front in parliamentary elections last year.

However, the National Front kept power and the biggest victor among the opposition group was not the Justice party but the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which promotes a more Muslim fundamentalist state.

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