Last edited: October 03, 2004

Malaysia’s Anwar Loses Court Bid

BBC News, September 15, 2004

Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has lost an appeal to set aside a conviction for corruption.

The decision, by the country’s highest court, means Anwar is prevented from seeking public office until 2008, unless he wins a royal pardon.

A fortnight ago the court overturned a sodomy conviction, allowing him to walk free after six years in jail.

Anwar told Reuters news agency that he was undecided whether to seek a royal pardon to clear his name.

He is currently in Germany recovering from surgery for a back problem he claims was caused by a police beating while he was in custody.

Anwar maintains that the convictions against him were fabricated when he fell out with the country’s former leader, Mahathir Mohamad.

Under Malaysian law, convicted criminals are banned from holding public office for five years.

His only remaining route of appeal is a royal pardon.

Sept 98—Sacked and arrested
April 99—Jailed for six years for corruption relating to alleged sodomy
July 00—Sentenced to further nine years for sodomy—alleged to have had sex with five men
July 2002—Loses appeal against corruption conviction
Sept 2004—Wins appeal against sodomy conviction

“That’s the advice of the lawyers but I think I will have to see the grounds and what the implications are before I proceed on that,” he told Reuters.

Anwar’s downfall came in 1999, when he was found guilty of corruption for having allegedly abused his power as deputy prime minister.

He was accused of trying to orchestrate a cover-up, by asking police to secure retractions from two people who had accused him of sexual misconduct.

A year later, he was also charged and convicted of sodomy.

In 2002, Malaysia’s federal court rejected his appeal on the corruption count. But the unreliability of the allegations against him led the court to overturn his sodomy conviction earlier this month.

The decision was welcomed by Malaysia’s opposition as well as human rights groups—and many thought it heralded Anwar’s return to politics.

Closed door

But Wednesday’s court ruling has prevented that—at least for now.

The court ruled that the corruption conviction against Anwar had been “conclusively settled” and would not be re-opened.

Anwar has already completed his sentence for corruption, but under Malaysian law he cannot run for public office for five years from the date that sentence finished. He will therefore be unable to return to politics until April 2008.

The BBC’s Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says many in Malaysia believe Anwar will galvanise politics whether or not he holds office.

The former deputy leader has already said he wants to stay in opposition, and press for further democratic reforms in Malaysia.

But he has conceded that Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has made improvements since coming to power last October.

Mr Abdullah has indicated that he is far more willing to engage in a debate with opponents than was his autocratic predecessor.

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