Malaysia: Opposition leader jailed over sodomy charge

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Malaysia’s highest court has upheld a sodomy conviction against the country’s main opposition leader.

Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the People’s Justice Party and former Deputy Prime Minister – was accused of having sex with a male aide in 2008.

The politician was acquitted by the high court in 2012, but was re-tried last year and found guilty. The Federal Court has this week upheld the conviction against him, rejecting his appeal.

Mr Ibrahim had remained as opposition leader on bail while the case was being argued – but will now serve a five-year prison sentence.

He said: “I maintain my innocence. This to me is a fabrication coming from a political conspiracy to stop my political career.”

The UK’s Minister for Asia, Hugo Swire, said: “I am deeply concerned by the imprisonment of Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“His case raises worrying questions about the independence of the judiciary and rule of law in Malaysia.

“As such, we have consistently raised our concerns with the Malaysian government.

“Malaysia is an important partner and friend to the UK. We continue to believe that the integrity of the rule of law is a key part of its success, as are the values of moderation and tolerance.

“We encourage Malaysia to recognise the importance of international confidence in its judicial system and to restore trust in its commitment to human rights.”