Jailed Malaysian opposition leader's family seeks royal pardon

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2015 9:37 AM

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The family of jailed Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Tuesday they had filed for a royal pardon two weeks after the 67-year-old former deputy prime minister was sent back to jail for five years.

Malaysia's highest court on Feb. 10 rejected an appeal by the politician, who long posed the greatest threat to the long-ruling coalition, against a sodomy conviction, upholding a five-year prison term.

Anwar, the ruling party's rising star in the mid-1990s before he fell out with then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, denied the charge that led to his second conviction for sodomy as a fabrication aimed at ending his political career.

He had 14 days, up to Tuesday, to file for a pardon with Malaysia's monarch.

"Through this petition we have presented all the facts and scenarios for a fair consideration to be thoroughly scrutinized," Nurul Nuha Anwar, the second daughter of Anwar said in a statement issued to the media.

"Our father is innocent and was tyrannized when he was convicted with a politically characterized accusation and sentenced to five years prison. Therefore our father is a political prisoner."

Anwar's family and political party have voiced concern about his health and conditions in prison.

"Anwar suffers from a long-term back and spine condition. The conditions he is being held in are aggravating his spine and back condition and may pose a grave threat to his health," Anwar's party said in a statement last week.

One of his lawyers, N. Surendran, told Reuters Anwar's family was only allowed to visit him once a month and he was not allowed to make phone calls.

Anwar was head of a three-party opposition alliance that made stunning gains in the 2013 election which for the first time raised the possibility of a genuine challenge for the coalition that has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957.

(Reporting By Trinna Leong; Editing by Janet Lawrence)