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The High Court today acquitted Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of a charge of sodomising his former male aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Judge Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah ruled that the prosecution had not done enough to prove Anwar had committed sodomy against Saiful. “The court could not rule 100 per cent that the DNA samples were not compromised. Without that, the court is reluctant to convict the accused based on the evidence of SP1. SP1, which stands for prosecution witness one, refers to Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. “Therefore the accused is acquitted,” he ruled to shouts of joy from Anwar’s supporters and family.

Anwar’s family wept with joy as they all rushed to him. The public gallery inside the packed courtroom bursts into shouts of “Allahuakbar!” Anwar, 64, had been similarly indicted of sodomy over a decade ago and was found guilty. He spent six years in jail before being exonerated. The High Court’s decision this time, ahead of the 13th general election, will likely give a boost to Anwar’s Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact’s plans to take over Putrajaya. “Thank God! I was surprised with the verdict,” he told reporters above the noise, saying he is vindicated by the verdict and that justice has been done.

“The only thing now is to focus on the elections,” he said. The PKR adviser later added, “This was not just the freedom of one man... our duty now is to free the people. Our final stand will be in Putrajaya.” However, Anwar said he did not discount that the prosecution might appeal the High Court’s decision. Phil Robertson, an observer with New York-based Human Rights Watch, said: “Anwar was acquitted on charges that never should have been brought in the first place. “Hopefully, this verdict sends a verdict to the government to put this matter to rest.”

DAP publicity chief Tony Pua echoed the observation. “This proves the entire exercise was a political setup. This is the second time they are attempting to stop Anwar from contesting and leading,” he said. “We are grateful for the result and hope the federal government will not choose to appeal the case and let the country move on without being tainted by this entire imbroglio,” he added. Outside the Jalan Duta court complex, the Free Anwar rally demonstrators went wild as word of the opposition leader’s acquittal spread.

They screamed and clapped as PR leaders started to stream out. PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim were among those spotted. Just as quickly, one group detached itself from the throng and started marching to the Federal Territory mosque directly opposite the court complex. The remainder, numbering in the thousands, quickly formed a line outside the gates to the courthouse. Many shouted for Saiful, and called for the youth to be jailed for falsely accusing Anwar of sodomy. Some jeered at him and threatened to beat him up if they saw him outside the courtroom.


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