PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AFP) – Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Friday he was confident the country’s top court would overturn a sodomy conviction that could see him jailed, as judges delayed giving a verdict.
The Federal Court’s five-judge panel, hearing Anwar’s appeal, was originally expected to issue a ruling last week, but after extending proceedings to eight days, they said they needed more time to consider the submissions.
Anwar, who was found guilty by a lower court earlier this year, has long dismissed the charges that he had sex with a young male former aide as engineered by the country’s long-ruling regime to thwart accelerating electoral gains by the opposition.
“I have no worries… They (my lawyers) have destroyed the case of the prosecution,” Anwar, 67, told reporters outside the courtroom.
“The authorities should stop with oppression (and) harassment, using obsolete and draconian laws.”
If the highest court upholds the “guilty” verdict and the five-year prison sentence handed to Anwar in March, the politician will lose his parliament seat – and the opposition, its highest ranking figure.
Government prosecutor Shafee Abdullah said if the court upheld the conviction, he would ask for a lengthier jail sentence.
“This is not a politically motivated case… We’re not a banana republic whereby the courts are controlled by the government,” he told reporters.
“Anwar has been given a fair trial throughout… Why should we look for conspiracy when there is no conspiracy?”
A lower court initially acquitted Anwar in 2012 of the charges – which emerged shortly after the once hapless opposition surged to key gains in 2008 – but this was overturned in March.
Sodomy is illegal in the Muslim-majority country.