Family seek royal pardon for Anwar
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The family of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Wednesday, February 25, they had sought a royal pardon for his conviction on sodomy charges to reverse a "gross miscarriage of justice".
Anwar's family submitted the request to the country's king, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, on Tuesday, February 24, just ahead of a deadline.
Anwar was convicted on February 10 and sentenced to 5 years in jail in what he called a "political conspiracy" by Malaysia's long-ruling government.
"He is innocent," said Nurul Izzah, Anwar's daughter and a member of parliament.
"He is the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice and it is our constitutional right to seek to right that wrong."
The application is widely considered to have little chance of success due to the conservative nature of Malaysia's figurehead Islamic royalty and its perceived closeness to the regime of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The move surprised many observers, who said it could be perceived by the public as an admission of guilt.
But Nurul dismissed the accusation, saying other opposition members had in the past sought pardons for convictions they considered wrongful.
She also said Anwar knew about the application for the royal pardon and that he supported it.
Anwar's family has also alleged that the 67-year-old, who suffers from chronic back problems, is being held in "deplorable" conditions in a small cell equipped only with a thin foam mattress on the floor, a squat toilet and a bucket for bathing.
This is the second disputed sodomy conviction for Anwar and the ruling was criticized by international human rights groups, Australia and the United States, which said it raised questions over the rule of law.
Government critics say the case is part of a long-running campaign to destroy Anwar, who was ousted from the ruling party in the late 1990s and later helped unite a previously divided opposition into a formidable force.
Anwar's conviction is expected to have a big impact on Malaysia's political landscape, which recently saw a rejuvenated opposition coalition gaining significant electoral ground from the long-ruling government. – Rappler.com