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Anwar to Remain in Jail After Court Dismisses Appeal - 2002-07-10

A Malaysian court has dismissed an appeal by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, of a six-year jail sentence he received after being convicted of abuse of power. Anwar, in a dramatic courtroom statement, called the verdict a travesty of justice. In a unanimous decision, the three federal judges ruled Anwar's six-year sentence is not excessive.

Anwar, once viewed as the successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, was fired in 1998. Shortly after that, he was charged with sodomy and abuse of power. Anwar claims the charges were orchestrated to prevent him challenging Mr. Mahathir for the leadership. Mr. Mahathir denies the claim.

Anwar's eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah, says the family will press on in efforts to have her father released. "We are disappointed. But we have faith in God and definitely the people of Malaysia that somehow, one day, justice will be restored," she said. " Basically this is the end for the first charge. There are no other avenues left."

Ms. Nurul says political change is necessary to ensure her father's release.

During the morning hearing, Anwar gave a five-minute speech, calling the verdict a travesty of justice. Anwar said the judgement represented an indictment by the highest court, calling it a betrayal of the people's trust.

Chief Justice Dzaiddin Abdullah told the packed courtroom the judges were satisfied that there were no substantial legal errors in the case. The federal court's decision means Anwar has exhausted all legal avenues on the abuse of power charges and now can only hope for a royal pardon. He has an appeal still pending on his nine-year sentence for sodomy. Western diplomats say the verdict, while not surprising, is disappointing. Diplomats add that the ruling is unlikely to have a significant impact on Malaysia's political landscape. The verdict comes less than a month after Mr. Mahathir said he will step aside late next year in favor of deputy prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.