Malaysia's Anwar denounces sodomy case as 'fabrication'

Malaysia's Anwar denounces sodomy case as 'fabrication'
Fighting on: Anwar leaving the courtroom in Putrajaya. With him is lawyer Gobind Singh Deo.

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim insisted Thursday he was the victim of a Malaysian government "fabrication and conspiracy" as the country's top court continued to hear his appeal against a sodomy conviction that would send him to jail.

Anwar, who has led a once-hapless opposition to the brink of power, has long asserted the much-criticised proceedings against him are a politically motivated campaign to eliminate him as a threat.

"Based on the facts and law, I see no possibility or no other options except to acquit me of all the frivolous charges," Anwar, 67, told reporters outside the Federal Court chambers where the case is being reviewed.

"Clearly people can see now the evidence of fabrication and the conspiracy on the part of the powers that be." Sodomy is illegal in the Muslim-majority country.

Jailing Anwar, who has been sentenced to five years' prison, would strip away his parliament seat and remove the opposition's highest-profile figure.

Anwar was initially acquitted in 2012 of the charge that he sodomised a young former male aide. The charge first emerged in 2008 shortly after he led the opposition to historic gains against Malaysia's now 57-year-old ruling regime.

But an appeals court controversially overturned that acquittal early this year, convicting the charismatic political veteran and sentencing him to a five-year jail term. He has remained free on appeal.

The Federal Court began hearing Anwar's final appeal on Tuesday.

Originally expected to end with a ruling this week, the proceedings have now been extended to next week due to the volume of submissions by each side.

Government prosecutor Shafee Abdullah insisted his side was "confident of our own case." International rights case say the case represents a major test for the country's judiciary, long seen by critics as prone to manipulation by the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

The United States also has said Anwar's conviction raised doubts about the rule of law.

A survey released Thursday by leading polling organisation Merdeka Centre said 48 per cent of Malaysians were "not confident" in the judiciary.

Anwar, a popular former deputy prime minister with UMNO, previously spent six years in prison on sodomy and corruption charges after a falling out with the ruling party in the late 1990s.

The sodomy conviction was later overturned and he was freed in 2004.

Joining the opposition, he has led a three-party alliance to historic showings in recent elections with promises to end corruption, crony capitalism and UMNO's divisive racial politics.

The opposition won the majority of votes in May 2013 elections.

But the regime, which has presided over decades of stability and strong economic growth, retained parliament thanks to decades of gerrymandering.

Since then, dozens of opposition politicians, activists and other government critics have been targeted with a range of charges, mainly sedition.

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