World

Anwar's final appeal for sodomy conviction rejected

PUTRAJAYA: Anwar Ibrahim has exhausted all avenues to set aside his five-year sodomy conviction, but he says he will not give up on his freedom.

"I'm optimistic. This is not the end of the road. I will discuss with my legal team on the next course of action," he was heard saying to reporters from the dock of the Malaysian Federal Court yesterday.

The apex court's five-man panel, chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkifli Ahmad Makinudin, earlier rejected the 69-year-old's application for a review of his conviction on grounds that there were no merits for the application.

The decision was unanimous, The Star Online reported.

Anwar's wife, opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, was seen leaving the courtroom, looking sombre.

His daughter, Ms Nurul Izzah, told reporters they would continue to seek all avenues, including appealing for a pardon on grounds of "miscarriage of justice".

His lawyer N Surendran said the legal team will study the judgment in detail before deciding how to proceed.

Mr Surendran said: "He does not accept the decision. His family does not accept the decision."

Anwar's review application, which was heard by the Federal Court on Oct 12, represented his final legal bid to set aside his conviction and five-year jail sentence for sodomising his former aide, Mr Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, in 2008.

He is serving the sentence at the Sungai Buloh prison.

Crowds of demonstrators gathered outside the court ahead of the verdict to show support for the opposition leader, Reuters reported.

The verdict was a "real tragedy for justice", said Mr Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch.

"With this final decision running roughshod over Anwar's rights and sending him back to prison, (Prime Minister) Najib (Razak) and the ruling Umno party have just fired the starting gun on the expected 2018 election by permanently sidelining the opposition's most capable leader." - WIRES

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