Anwar guilty: What next?

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Anwar Ibrahim’s plans to become Selangor’s chief minister have hit the rocks after a government appeal against his not-guilty verdict on sodomy charges was upheld in the Court of Appeal in KL today.

He was sentenced to five years jail thus barring him from competing in  a key by-election in Kajang later this month. He could also be disqualified from all his political positions.

Anwar was accused of having sex with a male aide in 2008. A High Court acquitted him in 2012, citing a lack of evidence. But shortly after, the government appealed against the acquittal.

Human Rights Watch has called the Court of Appeal’s decision a “travesty of justice”. It is a sign of the ruling party’s selective persecution of its political opponents, the group said.

Political scientist Professor James Chin noted that the Court’s verdict might make many residents of Kajang vote for the opposition party.

“The by-election will now become a referendum on the verdict. The Opposition is sure to use the court’s decision to get sympathy votes,” the Head of School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University said.

“People vote along party lines. Pakatan Rakyat [the opposition party] is likely to announce a new candidate [for the by-election] on Monday,” he added.

Anwar’s defence team is expected to appeal the court ruling.