Anwar Ibrahim: Malaysian jailed opposition leader denied royal pardon

Anwar Ibrahim speaks at a rally ahead of his final appeal verdict, Kuala Lumpur (9 Feb 2015) Image copyright Reuters

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is to remain in prison after his request for a royal pardon was turned down.

Anwar was jailed for five years in February after a final appeal against a sodomy conviction was rejected.

He and his family - who filed for the pardon - have always maintained the long-running case was brought to keep him out of politics.

The pardon rejection means Anwar has lost his seat as an MP.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Anwar's supporters have held rallies demanding his release

Malaysian media said that the Pardons Board made the decision on 16 March, though it is only now being reported. Anwar can still file for a judicial review.

Latheefa Koya, a lawyer for Anwar, told Reuters the family would appeal against the rejection and "we will be asking for further information as to what is going on".

Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia, though very few people are ever prosecuted.

Anwar - who has already served one six-year term for another sodomy conviction that was later overturned - has always insisted he is innocent.

Anwar had widely been seen as the only real threat to the ruling coalition, which insists that his conviction was fair.

His People's Justice Party (PJP) has held a series of rallies to protest against his jailing.

Timeline: Anwar Ibrahim

  • 1993 to 1998 - Deputy Prime Minister, under Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad
  • 1999 - Jailed for abuse of power, sparking huge street protests
  • 2000 - Found guilty of sodomy with his wife's driver
  • 2004 - Supreme Court overturns sodomy conviction, freeing him from jail. He quickly emerges as the de facto opposition leader
  • March 2008 - ruling coalition narrowly wins general election, but with its worst results in 50 years. The opposition makes unprecedented gains
  • Aug 2008 - Anwar charged with sodomy for a second time, but despite this is soon voted in as an MP
  • Feb 2009 - Second trial for sodomy starts
  • Jan 2012 - Acquitted of sodomy by High Court
  • May 2013: Leads opposition to best-ever performance in general elections
  • Mar 2014: 2012 acquittal overturned by court after government appeal

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