Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 7 March, 2014 — FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s decision by the Court of Appeals in Putrajaya to overturn the High Court’s acquittal of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy charges. The court sentenced Anwar to five years in prison and set bail at 10,000 Ringgit (2,200 Euros).
“The endless judicial persecution of Anwar Ibrahim is an intolerable blot on the Malaysian judiciary,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. “Today’s shocking conviction of Anwar Ibrahim is the latest chapter of the ruling coalition’s political vendetta against him which has been going on for more than 15 years.”
The court upheld a government appeal and found Anwar guilty on charges of sodomizing his former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan on 26 June, 2008. On 9 January, 2012, the Kuala Lumpur High Court found Anwar not guilty based on tainted DNA evidence presented by the prosecution. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge erred in finding that the chain of custody had been broken and that the integrity of the samples had been compromised.
“Today’s verdict is a new low for Malaysian justice. The manner in which the trial was rushed and the sentencing expedited are designed to remove Anwar from Malaysia’s political scene and confirm public speculation that the trial is politically motivated,” said SUARAM Executive Director Yap Swee Seng.
Today’s sentence prevents Anwar from running in the by-election for the Selangor State Assembly seat of Kajang. The Kajang by-election, scheduled for 23 March, could have paved the way for Anwar to become Chief Minister of Selangor State, Malaysia’s richest and most populous state.
FIDH and SUARAM urge Malaysia to respect international standards guaranteeing fair trial, including the right to be heard by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal, as prescribed by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).