Malaysia’s Anwar Loses Court Bid
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
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
Under Malaysian law, convicted criminals are banned from
holding public office for five years.
His only remaining route of appeal is a royal pardon.
ANWAR’S LEGAL BATTLE
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
A year later, he was also charged and convicted of
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
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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