Federal Court Finds "No Merit" In Anwar's Final Bid For An Early Release

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was first arrested in 1998.

Cover image via The Islamic Monthly

Former de facto opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim has lost his final battle for an appeal to overturn his sodomy conviction that came with a five-year jail sentence

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim leaving the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya today, 14 December.

Image via Yusof Mat Isa/ Malay Mail Online

A panel of five judges including Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Tan Sri Hasan Lah, Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin, and Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim ruled unanimously that there was "no merit" in Anwar's application for a review of his 2014 conviction, citing Anwar's argument that the prosecutor was biased. This was his final legal option for an acquittal.

"This is not a fit or proper case for this court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to initiate a review," said Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.

"It is devoid of merits and alleged misconduct by the prosecutor and there is no averment made on the allegations," explained Justice Zulkefli, as reported by Malaysiakini today, 14 December.

This resulted in the dismissal of the application which means that Anwar would have to serve out his remaining 16 months of his five-year jail sentence.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was the former deputy prime minister and UMNO member was sacked and jailed in 1998 for corruption charges. He was released in 2004 and jailed again in 2008 after being charged for sodomising his political aide, Mohd Saiful. He was acquitted of the charge in 2012 but on 7 March 2014 the appeal court over-ruled the high Court, reinstating the conviction and putting Anwar back in jail.

On 30 April 2015, Anwar filed his third and final appeal, seeking a review by the Federal Court for a fair and independent hearing.

Anwar has insisted on his innocence throughout the years.

"It's not the end; it's a long road. Like a long walk to freedom," stressed Anwar before leaving the court today.

"This is not the end of the road. I have pleaded and reiterated my complete innocence.

"I cannot say that I was completely optimistic of the outcome. We prayed for a good outcome. We prayed for justice to prevail," said Anwar, as reported by The Malay Malay Online today, 14 December.

The final verdict has been dubbed as a "real tragedy for justice" by Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

"With this final decision running roughshod over Anwar’s rights and sending him back to prison, Najib 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," added Robertson, as reported by Reuters today, 14 December.

Responding to the judgement, PKR vice-president Tian Chua urged the people to continue fighting against corruption and the government.

"Although Anwar would not be released by this judicial system, it is the people who has the power. The power is in our hands. It is us who cede power to the government; it is us who decide."

PKR vice-president Tian Chua

Image via Koh Jun Lin/ Malaysiakini

"We are prepared to accept that a corrupt and scandal-riddled regime would not side with the people’s interests.

"Now we must seize this power from Najib and the government leaders. This is our pledge, and we will not back down, we will not stop. We will continue our fight," said Chua, as reported by Malaysiakini.

Meanwhile, Anwar's lawyer, N Surendran said that they will be announcing their next course of action once they receive a copy of the judgement.

More stories on SAYS about Anwar's battle with the justice system: