Stop persecuting Anwar, says Amnesty

Human rights group Amnesty International has urged Malaysia to drop what it says is a politically motivated sodomy charge against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, ahead of the trial due to start next week.

Anwar lost his final appeal on Friday for access to the government’s evidence in a case which could see him jailed for up to 20 years if convicted.

“The Malaysian authorities have resorted to the same old dirty tricks in an attempt to remove the opposition leader from politics,” Sam Zarifi, Amnesty Asia-Pacific director said in a statement issued late Friday.

“Malaysia’s judiciary should throw out these charges.”

Amnesty said it is “seriously concerned” over a fair trial for Anwar, especially after Friday’s ruling, which the watchdog described as an infringement of international fair trial standards.

“Anwar’s case has rightly raised doubts among the international community and investors about Malaysia’s commitment to justice and the rule of law,” Zarifi added.

Anwar spent six years in prison after he was convicted in 1998 but the sex charge against him was eventually overturned. Amnesty had considered him a prisoner of conscience before his release.

After being freed Anwar reinvigorated the opposition and rallied it in 2008 to achieve its best ever results in national elections, when it won a third of parliamentary seats.

Anwar has accused the Malaysian government of seeking to convict him quickly as part of efforts to deflect attention against its own woes. – AFP