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Malaysia appeals court rejects opposition leader's bid to dismiss sodomy charge

The Malaysian Court of Appeals [official website] on Monday dismissed [Bernama report] an appeal by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of the Kuala Lumpur High Court's refusal to throw out the sodomy charges [Bernama report] against him based on allegations that his accuser had an affair with the prosecutor. A three-man panel ruled that, under Section 3 of the Court of Judicature Act (CJA) [materials, text], the appeals court had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal because the High Court's ruling was not a final decision. The prosecution had objected to the appeal on the grounds that the High Court's decision was procedural and therefore did not constitute a "final" decision as defined by Section 3. Counsel for Anwar will reportedly appeal to Malaysia's highest court [official website], which will further delay his trial [JURIST report].

Anwar is charged with sodomizing his former aide Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008. This was his second attempt to have the sodomy charge against him dismissed [JURIST report]. He has described the charges as a farce aimed at preventing him from taking his seat in Parliament [official website] following the gains made by his party in the 2008 elections. He pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] in February. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the Malaysian government to drop all charges [JURIST report] against Anwar. HRW alleges that the trial has been "plagued by serious due process problems and government interference" and that the government should therefore drop all charges against Anwar. Earlier that month, the Malaysian Federal Court rejected Anwar's claim [JURIST reports] that his 1998 removal from office was unconstitutional. Anwar was Malaysia's deputy prime minister until he was fired and then jailed in 1998 following corruption and sodomy charges, of which he was acquitted in 2004. He recently reentered Malaysian politics following the expiration of a 10-year ban [JURIST report] against him for unrelated corruption charges.

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