Anwar gets 9 years in jail for sodomy

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Wed Aug 9 20:02:22 MDT 2000


Wednesday
9 August 2000

Anwar gets 9 years in jail for sodomy

By Harvey Stockwin
The Times of India News Service
HONG KONG: As former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim is
condemned to a total of fifteen years in prison, Prime Minister Mahathir bin
Mohammad has effectively crushed his previous political ally, and further
strengthened his dictatorial rule. On Tuesday, after a highly controversial
trial, Anwar, who is the accepted leader of a coalition of opposition
parties, was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to nine years in jail, the
sentence to run consecutively with his six year prison term for an earlier
conviction last year for abuse of power.
The maximum sentence for sodomy in Malaysia is 20 years prison and ten
strokes of the cane. Since Anwar is over 50 years old, he could not be
sentenced to a caning. But his fellow accused, his adopted Indonesian
brother, Sukma, was sentenced to six years for abetting Anwar's sodomy, with
two strokes of the cane, and another six years for sodomy, also with two
strokes of the cane.
Anwar's earlier conviction took him out of the political arena. Tuesday's
conviction for sodomy is meant to bring shame and disgrace on Anwar in the
Malay community particularly, wherein sodomy is viewed with great distaste,
thereby weakening his previously strong hold on Malay support and emotions.
Reflecting this objective, the presiding Judge Ariffin stressed to the court
before sentencing that ``These are despicable acts in our society. This
order of offense should meet with utmost condemnation. People who commit
such an offense should be dealt with properly.''
Presenting his mitigation plea in court, Anwar gave another feisty
performance, saying ``I never dreaded this judgment. It has no legal basis.
It is unjust, disgraceful and revolting. It does not disgrace me, it
disgraces you (the judge), the judiciary and this nation of ours.'' He went
on: ``I reiterate my innocence with a clear conscience. I will fight even
from behind iron bars and prison walls. Truth and justice cannot but
prevail. Let the plotters plot all they want for God is still the best of
schemers.''
Anwar has maintained all along that his trials have arisen as a result of
Mahathir's desire to further extend his hold on power and to prevent Anwar
ever succeeding him. Most objective observers of Malaysian politics would
concur in this assessment. Almost certainly Mahathir moved against Anwar
fearing -- possibly with good reason --that Anwar was about to move against
him. But in destroying Anwar, Mahathir has also destroyed the credibility,
and the reputation for at least some degree of independence, of the
Malaysian Judiciary.
The trial which concluded Tuesday was a travesty of the rule of law. The
original date for the sodomy was fixed at a time when the building in which
the sodomy allegedly took place had not yet been constructed. Faced with
this fact, the prosecution moved the time of the crime to another date. When
this also proved questionable, the prosecution moved to yet another date.
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