[JURIST] A Malaysian court on Friday overturned the High Court’s acquittal of Anwar Ibrahim [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], sentencing the opposition leader to five years in prison for sodomizing a male aide in 2008. This conviction [BBC report] makes Anwar unable to run for chief minister of Selangor in next month’s election, where he was expected to win. Anwar has consistently argued that the government’s allegations were a politically motivated attempt to silence his opposition to the current administration. He has already announced his plans to appeal to the country’s highest court, and will remain free on bail during the course of the appeal. Should his appeal be unsuccessful, Anwar will be forced to give up his seat in Parliament to serve time in prison. He would then be disqualified from participating in any elections for five years after his release from jail. Under Malaysian law, sodomy is punishable by 20 years in prison regardless of consent.
Anwar has continually denied [JURIST report] the sodomy charge. The Kuala Lumpur High Court [official website] acquitted [JURIST report] Anwar in January 2012. A Malaysian court ruled [JURIST report] in May 2011 that prosecutors had enough evidence to continue to pursue the sodomy case against Anwar. The opposition leader was arrested in July 2008 after he filed a lawsuit against his accuser [JURIST reports] a month earlier. In December 2010, Anwar filed a complaint [JURIST report] in a Malaysian court over a WikiLeaks [website] cable published by Australian newspapers stating he had engaged in sodomy. Anwar was Malaysia’s deputy prime minister under former Mahathir Mohamad until he was fired in 1998 following earlier sodomy charges of which he was initially convicted but later acquitted. He reentered Malaysian politics following the expiration of a 10-year ban [JURIST report] against him for unrelated corruption charges.