Anwar to tour M’sia ahead of sodomy verdict

While optimistic of walking free, Anwar says that he is ready to accept the worst.

(AFP) – Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today said he will tour the country to declare his innocence ahead of the verdict in a sodomy trial he says was cooked up to bar him from coming polls.

Anwar, who heads the PKR and is the figurehead for a strengthening opposition alliance, will visit nine states in the whirlwind six-day tour beginning Jan 3, he said. The verdict is set for Jan 9.

“A lot of people pray that I should be acquitted. I will reiterate my innocence during the tour,” Anwar, 64, told AFP.

Anwar, who was once heir-apparent to former strongman prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has been fighting charges that he sodomised a former political aide in June 2008.

The accusations emerged shortly after Anwar led the opposition to unprecedented gains in parliamentary polls against the ruling coalition that has governed the country for five decades.

Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison.

Anwar added the timing of the trip was motivated in part by concerns that he would be found guilty and jailed after a trial he slams as a smear campaign aimed at ruining his political career.

While “optimistic” of walking free, Anwar added that he was “a political realist” and “ready to accept the worst.”

“These are trumped-up charges. It is another coincidence that the verdict comes so close to elections. The aim is to deny me the chance to participate in the elections,” he said.

Fresh elections are due next year but Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has hinted he may call them sooner. Najib denies any involvement in the case.