Skip to main content

Malaysian court overturns Anwar Ibrahim's acquittal of sodomy charge

By Jethro Mullen and Elizabeth Joseph, CNN
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of the sodomy charge in January 2012.
Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of the sodomy charge in January 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Court of Appeal rules that Anwar Ibrahim is guilty of sodomizing an aide
  • A court had acquitted Anwar of the charge in 2012
  • Anwar has repeatedly insisted he is innocent

(CNN) -- A Malaysian court on Friday overturned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's acquittal of the charge that he sodomized a former political aide, the latest twist in a long-running legal battle.

Anwar was acquitted of sodomy in January 2012. But the Court of Appeal on Friday ruled that he is guilty, state news agency Bernama reported.

Anwar, de facto leader of the People's Justice Party, has repeatedly said he is innocent, calling the case against him an attempt by the government to end his political career -- an assertion it has consistently denied.

2013: Did election fraud occur in Malaysia?
2012: Anwar Ibrahim on acquittal

"This is a travesty of justice -- a blatant disregard of the rule of law," said Azmin Ali, deputy president of the People's Justice Party and a member of parliament. "This case is a clear case of hurried justice."

When asked if this has anything to do with Malaysia's upcoming elections, Ali didn't hesitate in his response: "Certainly, they wanted to stop Anwar from contesting."

The previous trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court lasted nearly two years. Prosecutors alleged that he sodomized the former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, in June 2008.

But a judge found him not guilty, saying it was not safe to rely on DNA evidence that had been cited in the trial.

Sodomy, even if consensual, is an offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison in Malaysia.

Investigators arrested Anwar in July 2008, four months after a loose coalition of opposition parties that he led won 82 of 222 parliamentary seats in elections. It was the second time in the country's history that the governing party had failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.

He was the heir apparent to former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad until 1998, when he was sacked and charged with corruption and sodomy.

Anwar spent six years in prison after being convicted of corruption charges in 1999 and of sodomy charges involving his wife's former driver in 2000.

Malaysia's highest court overturned the sodomy conviction and ordered him released from prison in 2004. However, the corruption verdict was never lifted, barring him from running for political posts until 2008.

READ: 2012: Malaysian court finds opposition leader Anwar not guilty of sodomy

READ: 2012: Anwar: Malaysian reformer emerges after a decade in court

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex, agents caught up with a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back terror to Europe.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT)
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
South Africa Music Legends stamps
Artist Hendrik Gericke puts a spotlight on iconic performers from South Africa in these incredible monochrome illustrations.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT