KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was granted a furlough Sunday to attend his father's funeral, soon after he began a five-year prison sentence on sodomy charges that he says are politically motivated.
Wearing a white Malay outfit, Anwar was taken to his father's house under heavy security to pay respects to the 96-year-old who died Sunday morning. Anwar will return to prison after the burial, which takes place after Muslim prayers.
Anwar began his sentence Feb. 10 after losing a final appeal against a charge of sodomizing a former aide in 2008. The court case was widely seen at home and abroad as politically motivated to eliminate any threats to Malaysia's ruling coalition, whose popularity has been eroding since 2008.
Anwar led his alliance to unprecedented gains in 2008 elections and made further inroads in 2013 polls. Prime Minister Najib Razak's National Front coalition won with a slimmer majority but lost the popular vote to the opposition.
Anwar previously was imprisoned for six years after being ousted as deputy prime minister in 1998, on earlier charges of sodomizing his former family driver and abusing his power. He was freed in 2004, after Malaysia's top court quashed that sodomy conviction. That case was also widely seen as politically motivated, as it came at a time when he was locked in a power struggle with then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail posted pictures on her Facebook page of Anwar arriving at the father's house. Anwar was sitting on a chair beside his father's body draped in a white cloth, his wife and children on the floor beside him, and prison guards surrounding them.
She said it reminded her of the time when Anwar's mother passed away while he was imprisoned on the first sodomy charge. "Oh Allah, give us strength," she wrote.