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March 07, 2014

Malaysian Court Finds Anwar Guilty of Sodomy

by VOA News

A Malaysian appeals court has overturned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's 2012 acquittal on charges of sodomy.

The Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Anwar was guilty of having sex in 2008 with a man who was then his aide.

A lower court acquitted Anwar in 2012, ruling that DNA evidence in the trial was contaminated.

Sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison under a colonial-era law in Malaysia.

The 66-year-old former deputy prime minister says the charges are an attempt by the government to ruin his political career.

The ruling will complicate Anwar's hopes of running in a local by-election on March 23. Many expected the veteran politician would win the seat.

Anwar claims fraud by Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling National Front coalition kept his Pakatan Rakyat alliance from winning last year's election. The government disputes the charge and says it is not pursuing the sodomy charges against Anwar for political reasons.

The appeal hearing on Thursday had been delayed many times because of Anwar's insistence that the government's lawyer was biased against him.

Many rights groups agree with Anwar that the charges are politically motivated. In a statement Thursday, Human Rights Watch said the latest hearing makes it clear the government is "determined to remove Anwar from the political scene by hook or by crook."