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Malaysian opposition leader Anwar found guilty of sodomy

March 07, 2014 20:46 IST

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was on Friday sentenced to five years in jail after a court here overturned his acquittal on sodomy charges in 2012, putting his political career in doubt.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal found 66-year-old former deputy prime minister guilty of sodomising his former aide Saiful Azlan in June, 2008.

Overturning Anwar's 2012 acquittal in the case, the court granted him a stay of execution of the sentence with a bail of RM 10,000 (Rs 1.8 lakh) in one surety.

A distraught Anwar decried the judges' verdict. "It is a travesty of justice. I would have thought you would have some courage," he told the panel.

"They want to end Anwar's political career but they underestimated the wrath of the people and I believe in the wisdom of the people," he said attacking his political rival

Prime Minister Najib Razak and the ruling Barisan Nasional alliance.

The court allowed Anwar to post bail on Monday. It had allowed the prosecution's appeal against a 2012 high court decision that had acquitted Anwar of the charge.

Justice Balia Yusof Wahi ruled that the trial judge had erred in his finding that the integrity of the victim's DNA samples had been compromised.

The guilty verdict means Anwar will be disqualified from contesting elections in opposition-ruled Selangor state later this month. His lawyers have said they will appeal to Malaysia's highest Federal Court.

Anwar was expected to take over as the chief minister of Selangor had he won the polls.

About 150 Anwar supporters protested outside the court in the city of Putrajaya after the verdict.

Sodomy is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia and is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

Anwar's re-entry into politics as the leader of the opposition alliance had resulted in a popularity sway away from the ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional which has been in power since the country gained independence in 1957.

Though the opposition did not win the last two general elections, it made a huge and noticeable dent in the ruling party's vote bank.

Anwar was Malaysia's deputy prime minister between 1993-1998. He was previously a member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, but fell out with top leaders and was sacked in 1998.

He was then charged with sodomy and corruption, and given a six-year jail term for abuse of power, which sparked huge street protests.