Anwar's request for Malaysian royal pardon rejected: Report

Anwar's request for Malaysian royal pardon rejected: Report

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's king has rejected a royal pardon request for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is currently serving five years in jail for sodomy, local media reported on Wednesday.

Anwar was convicted last year of sodomising a former male aide, which he denies, calling the case a "political conspiracy" by Malaysia's long-ruling government to destroy his political career.

The decision was upheld on February 10 by the nation's highest court, causing his family to apply in late February for a rare royal pardon from the country's figurehead Islamic monarch.

But The Star newspaper and state-run Bernama news agency both quoted a senior judicial official as saying the request had been rejected by the king, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah.

"The (king) had on March 16 at the Pardons Board meeting rejected the application by Anwar's family," The Star said, quoting Senior Federal Counsel Amarjeet Singh.

However, Anwar's lawyers told AFP that neither they nor the opposition leader's family had been informed of the rejection.

"Our position is that it has not been rejected, because there has not been any communication about the rejection from the palace," said N. Surendran, one of Anwar's lawyers and an opposition lawmaker.

AFP could not immediately reach members of Anwar's family for comment.

It was not immediately clear why the decision had not been publicly announced.

The Star said the ruling meant that Anwar, as expected, would officially lose his parliamentary seat.

The case is the second disputed sodomy conviction for Anwar, and has been criticised by the United States, which said it raised questions over the rule of law, as well as other countries and international human rights groups.

Anwar helped transform Malaysia's previously divided opposition into a formidable alliance that has pushed the country's 58-year-old regime to the brink of electoral defeat.

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