PUTRAJAYA, FEB 10 – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sentence of five years’ jail was upheld by the Federal Court today, ending his public office as oppositon leader and Permatang Pauh MP. The Federal Court dismissed applications by the defence to lessen the five-year jail sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal and also rejected prosecution’s appeal to enhance the prison term. Earlier, before sentence was passed, Anwar attacked the five-man bench which convicted him today accusing them of “bowing to their political masters and becoming partners in crime in the murder of the judiciary”.
Anwar told the bench led by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria that a full statement was issued by the Prime Minister’s Office barely minutes after the judgment was delivered. “In bowing to political masters they have disgraced themselves and have become partners in crime in the murder of the judiciary,” Anwar said, before Arifin asked lead defence counsel Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram to tell Anwar to stop.
But Sri Ram told Arifin that his client had the right to address the court, to which Arifin retorted, “yes, on the appeal but not to condemn the court”. But the opposition leader continued attacking the judiciary, adding “you had the opportunity to right the wrong but you chose to remain on the dark side”. At this juncture, Arifin and the rest of the bench walked out. Anwar continued to speak and shouted into the microphone: “I will again, for the third time, walk into prison but with my head held high.
“I will not be silent and will fight for freedom and justice and will never surrender,” Anwar said. Lawyers had earlier said Anwar could even be sentenced to just one day in jail or bound over, as provided under the punishment for Section 377B of the Penal Code. The prosecution led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was appealing for a longer jail sentence, which can go up to 20 years. Mitigation and sentencing for Anwar, who will turn 68 this August, had begun with Sri Ram telling the Federal Court bench there was no good reason to enhance Anwar’s sentence.
Sri Ram also said that the court could use its discretion to give the opposition leader a lighter sentence under the law. “He is not an ordinary individual. His contribution when he was with the government to this country is numerous and far reaching. “Even in the opposition, he has made significant contributions to advancing democratic principles and awakening the conscience of the majority of Malaysians,” Sri Ram said in pleading for a lighter sentence.
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* Anwar’s family leaves the court complex. Their car is surrounded by supporters.
* Anwar being taken away from the court complex. Crowd turned unruly and started to hurl bottles and scuffling with the police. Police gave final warning.
* Outside the court, the Federal Reserve Unit again sound the siren to warn supporters to behave and disperse.
* One of Anwar’s lawyers, Latheefa Koya, says Anwar will be taken to the Sungai Buloh prison.
* Anwar carries his one-year-old grandson and kisses him. The police take Anwar into custody but allow his family to have lunch with him.
* Anwar’s father-in-law wipes away tears while his brother Idrus said: “This kind of court, no need to comment lah. I dare not hear what Anwar is going to say.”
* Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali cries as Anwar hugs him.
* Siren from riot police could be heard as supporters outside shout “reformasi”.
* Anwar looks cheerful, so does his daughter Nurul Izzah.
* Shouts of “reformasi” in court.
* When the judges returned, they upheld Anwar’s sentence of five years’ jail meted out by Court of Appeal.
* Anwar continues to speak from dock as judges leave courtroom, after Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria asked him to stop condemning the judiciary.
* Judges walked out as Anwar attacked judiciary from the dock. “This is a complete fabrication and a political conspiracy to stop my politcal career. A full written statement was available on PM’s office website minutes after you delivered the judgment even before the sentencing.”
* Anwar stands up to speak from the dock. “I’m shocked with this decision,” he said. “I maintain my innocence.”
* Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said that a five-year sentence was wrong in principle, adding that the sentence imposed on Anwar cannot be lesser that his six-year sentence for his first sodomy charge.