Anwar Ibrahim sodomy charge dismissed by Malaysian judge
时间：2019-11-16 责任编辑：辜帷众 来源：合乐888手机网页版 点击：51 次
A Malaysian court has acquitted the country's opposition leader, , of sodomy charges in a shock ruling that could fast-forward the former deputy prime minister's political comeback ahead of an expected election this year.
Anwar, 64, was charged in 2008 with having sex with a male former aide, and could have faced whipping and up to 20 years in jail if found guilty. Under Malaysian law sex between males is a punishable offence even if consensual.
The case rested primarily on testimony by Anwar's 26-year-old accuser, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, as well as semen samples found on Saiful's body that investigators said matched Anwar's DNA. Defence lawyers contended that Saiful's testimony about the alleged sodomy, at a Kuala Lumpur apartment in 2008, was riddled with inconsistencies and the DNA evidence mishandled by investigators.
In his ruling, judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah expressed concern that the submitted evidence was tainted and told a packed Kuala Lumpur courtroom: "The court at this stage could not with 100% certainty exclude the possibility that the [DNA] sample is not compromised. Therefore it is not safe to rely on the sample.
"There is no evidence to corroborate" the charge, he added.
As his family burst into tears at the verdict, a jubilant Anwar greeted reporters. "Thank God justice has prevailed," Anwar said. "I have been vindicated. To be honest I am a little surprised."
Some 5,000 opposition supporters had gathered outside the court chanting "reform" as a police helicopter flew overhead and riot police, backed by a truck mounted with a water cannon, watched the crowd.
Three explosions were reported outside the courthouse, with a preliminary investigation finding two explosive devices underneath police cones. Two people were injured and taken to hospital, but it is unclear who was responsible.
Monday's judgment is seen as a positive step forward for Malaysia's judicial system and could have a major impact on upcoming general elections, which the prime minister, Najib Razak, is widely expected to call this year.
Najib hopes to regain a strong mandate after suffering in recent popularity polls and has promised economic and civil liberty reforms.
Anwar and his supporters long contested the sodomy allegations as a government plot to weaken his three-party coalition. The charges emerged after the coalition made unprecedented gains in the 2008 general elections against the ruling National Front alliance, which has ruled for more than 50 years.
The opposition controls more than one-third of parliament's seats and analysts say that Anwar, who has pledged to scale back Malaysia's most draconian laws and reunify the racially divided nation if elected, could potentially knock out the incumbent government entirely.
This trial was the second time in 14 years that Anwar has faced the courts. Anwar served as both deputy prime minister and finance minister in the incumbent Umno party before falling out with his then premier, Mahathir Mohamad, in 1998.
He was then jailed for six years on sodomy and corruption charges in what was widely seen as a politically motivated prosecution. The sodomy charged was overturned in 2004.
Anwar has since become the glue binding together the three very ideologically different parties in his opposition alliance, which includes Islamists and an ethnic Chinese party. But for a coalition that has long considered itself "martyred" by Malaysian politics, the true test will be its ability to create a viable alternative for the future, says Bridget Welsh, Malaysia specialist at Singapore Management University.
"Charges against opposition figures don't really help Malaysia. This [verdict] gives Malaysia an opportunity to move out of dirty politics - for the [National Front] to get out of gutter politics, and for the opposition to … move on and change its tactic from being the 'martyr' and 'target' to one that promotes a positive alternative for voters," she said.
In a statement released after the verdict, the government said Monday's ruling proved that "Malaysia has an independent judiciary and this verdict proves that the government does not hold sway over judges' decisions. The current wave of bold democratic reforms introduced by [Najib] will help extend this transparency to all areas of Malaysian life."
Such reforms, coupled with Monday's acquittal, could be seen by voters as positive steps and translate into votes for the National Front in the upcoming elections, said Malaysian political analyst Ong Kian Ming.
"Had [Anwar] been convicted, he could have garnered more public sympathy that now won't be as strong. [PM] Najib can now try to capitalise on this by continuing on with his political reforms, saying that the judiciary system is free and fair, and … gaining some momentum by leading up to the next election."
Anwar's accuser Saiful, who did not attend the hearing, wrote on Twitter after the verdict that he would "remain calm, continue praying and be patient".
The legal saga may very well continue, since chief prosecutor Yusof Zainal Abiden has not yet decided whether to appeal against the acquittal.