December 14, 2016 – Malaysia’s imprisoned opposition leader has lost a final legal battle to quash a five-year jail sentence.
The ruling earlier today means former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim has now exhausted all legal avenues to reverse his conviction.
Malaysia’s apex court ruled out Ibrahim’s appeal of a previous Federal Court ruling and upheld the five-year imprisonment, handed down to Ibrahim in January 2015 for sodomizing his aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.
Ibrahim and his political party, the People’s Justice Party, have labeled the charges as politically motivated.
On Wednesday, a five-men bench led by the High Court Judge Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin unanimously rejected Ibrahim’s bid to review the Federal Court’s decision, saying that the application by Ibrahim’s counsel was without merit.
“We find there is no merit in this application. This is not a fit and proper case for this court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to exercise its discretion to review,” said Makinuddin.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Ibrahim, however, remained hopeful of freedom and maintained his innocence.
“This is not the end of the road. I have pleaded and reiterated my complete innocence… It’s a long road, like ‘a long walk to freedom’,” he said, utilizing a phrase commonly attributed to Nelson Mandela’s fight against 27 years in prison.
“I cannot say that I was completely optimistic of the outcome. We prayed for a good outcome. We prayed for justice to prevail,” he added.
Prisoners in Malaysia are typically allowed a remittance of their jail terms, where one-third of the term is taken off and they are given early release.
This would mean that Ibrahim — who has already spent around one year and ten months in jail — could walk out of prison in 2018, instead of being imprisoned until 2020.