Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Thursday, Jul 11, 2002
Court upholds Anwar's conviction
Nurul Izzah, daughter of Malaysia's former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, reads a statement at the courthouse where her father was appearing in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
KUALA LUMPUR JULY 10. The former Malaysian deputy leader, Anwar Ibrahim, launched a tirade against Malaysia's top court and his nemesis, the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, after losing his final appeal Wednesday against a conviction and six-year prison term for corruption.
The three-judge panel ruled unanimously against Mr. Anwar, who has long claimed that he was the victim of trumped-up charges to prevent him from challenging Mr. Mahathir, who has ruled Malaysia since 1981.
"We are satisfied that the errors complained of have not occasioned a substantial miscarriage of justice," said Chief Justice Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah. "We therefore dismiss the appeal." Mr.
Anwar rose from his wheelchair and lambasted the judges and Mr. Mahathir, who had groomed him as his successor, but fired him in 1998. The power struggle touched off the Southeast Asian country's biggest political crisis in years.
"The judiciary has been emasculated and bludgeoned into submission at the hands of Dr. Mahathir," Mr. Anwar said. "I wish Dr. Mahathir good luck. He has nothing left to destroy." There was no immediate comment from Mahathir. Rais Yatim, Malaysia's de facto Law Minister, denied that the judges had succumbed to political pressure. "These are baseless accusations," Mr. Rais said. "Everyone should abide by the ruling of the highest court in the land. It is as simple as that." However, the ruling produced an uproar from opposition leaders and Mr. Anwar's family, who alleged that the Federal Court had done Mr. Mahathir's bidding, an accusation government officials denied.
There was no immediate reaction from serving U.S. officials in Kuala Lumpur, but Washington — which has described Mr. Anwar as a political prisoner — had hoped that perceived injustices in Mr. Anwar's trials would be corrected in the appeals process. About 300 demonstrators outside the courthouse shouted the "Reformasi!" slogan for political change that marked Mr. Anwar's failed challenge to Mr. Mahathir, whom he accused of being a dictator and running a corrupt state. One man was arrested.
The crowd marched to a police station and lodged a legal complaint demanding a probe into their allegations that the chief justice had rejected the appeal to further his career. .
The corruption case hinged on whether Mr. Anwar abused his power in 1997 to get police to obtain forced retractions from people who accused him of sodomy and adultery.
Even if the conviction had been overturned, Mr. Anwar faces nine years in prison for a separate sodomy offence. Appeals in that case have not begun. He will be banned from politics for five years after leaving prison. — AP