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There is a perception that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been "persecuted not prosecuted" because of "glaring anomalies", said Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong yesterday.

He pointed out these anomalies in a statement yesterday, reported the Malay Mail.

He said that if the sodomy was consensual, then Anwar's accuser Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan should have been charged and prosecuted as well.

He said: "It is notable that Anwar was not charged under Section 377C of the Penal Code for forced sodomy or sodomy rape, although there may appear to have been some allegation of coercion made in the proceedings.

"This has also given rise to questions or concerns as to why the complainant Saiful, who was alleged to have been a participant in the act of sodomy, was not charged for abetment under Sections 377A and 377B, read together with Section 109, of the Penal Code."

Mr Leong added that the laws that criminalise "carnal intercourse against the order of nature", which include oral and anal sex, were rarely used.

"Given this, it is remarkable that Anwar has been prosecuted and convicted twice for an alleged offence of sexual acts between adults wherein the charge does not contain elements of coercion."

These glaring anomalies fuel a perception that Anwar has been persecuted, and not prosecuted, he said.

CONCERNS

Several countries, including the US and Australia, have expressed concerns about the Federal Court's verdict, reported the Malaysian Insider.

"The decision to prosecute Anwar and the conduct of his trial have raised a number of serious concerns about rule of law and the fairness of the judicial system in Malaysia," Ms Bernadette Meehan, spokesman for White House's National Security Council, said in a statement.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the country shared the disappointment of other members of the international community about the jail term.

"The severity of his sentence, coupled with recent prosecutions under the country's Sedition Act, are of concern to New Zealand," he said in a statement.