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Malaysian Appeals Court Upholds Anwar Ibrahim Sentence - 2003-04-18


Malaysia's appeals court has upheld a nine-year prison sentence for former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim. Defense lawyers say they will now take their case to the highest court.

Malaysian former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, faced a double setback Friday when the Court of Appeals rejected a plea against his conviction and nine year prison sentence for sexual misconduct.

The three-judge panel unanimously upheld the guilty verdict, which convicted Anwar Ibrahim of sodomizing his wife's former driver.

In a separate decision, the court also rejected his bail application pending final appeal.

Defense lawyer Sankara Nair tells VOA the judges did not give reasons for the decision and he will lodge an appeal to the highest court.

"It is a travesty of justice," he said. " We presented a very strong case and we expected them to give us, at least in the short oral judgment they made this morning, to give us reasons why they disagreed with us, which is judicial practice anywhere in the Commonwealth World. It was not. With one simple line 'Appeal dismissed.' "

Anwar Ibrahim told reporters after the verdict that the judges, which he says were specially selected by the government, were "spineless" for issuing a scripted verdict.

His wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, who now leads the opposition National Justice Party, says she was not surprised since this is a political case and this there was a political verdict.

Anwar Ibrahim on Monday finished his jail term for corruption after his six-year sentence was reduced for good behavior. His nine-year prison term for sodomy will now begin.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad fired his firmer protégé in 1998 during a dispute over financial policy. Anwar Ibrahim began political protests against the government, but was quickly arrested and charged.

Anwar supporters say the allegations were fabricated to silence effective political challenges to the prime minister. The government denies this. Human rights groups and the United States have condemned the legal process in this case as politically motivated.

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