(AA) – Malaysia’s imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is to appeal for a fresh judicial review of his conviction and five-year jail term — although party members admit the chances of success are slim.
Sivarasa Rasiah, a lawyer and MP for Ibrahim’s party told The Anadolu Agency on Friday that the application for a review was filed the day before.
“[It’s] for a review of the federal court decision according to article 137 which allows the court to review its own decisions. If the judicial review is granted it would set aside the judgment,” the Pakatan Keadilan Rakyat party member said.
“But to be frank, the likelihood of the review being granted is very limited. We are just trying to exhaust all legal possibilities.”
In March, Malaysia King Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah rejected a previous plea against Ibrahim’s conviction during a pardons board meeting.
Ibrahim’s family had submitted the petition for the pardon in February after his sentence for sodomizing former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan was upheld by Malaysia’s highest court.
As a result of the rejection, Ibrahim automatically lost his status as a parliamentarian for Permatang Pauh constituency in Penang.
Ibrahim has had huge support among Malaysians since his entrenchment as deputy prime minister in former premier Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s government in 1998.
The opposition leader and his supporters claim that the case against him is politically motivated and aimed at stopping him standing in the 2018 general election.
Rasiah told AA that the application for the judicial review was based on “a perception of bias on the day of the judgment” as the prime minister’s office had issued a statement even before the judges concluded the sentence.
“So it gave the impression to the public that the prime minister’s office already knew what the sentence was going to be,” he underlined.
In a March address to parliament read by his daughter and lawmaker Nurul Izzah, Ibrahim reiterated that he is not guilty of the charge.
The 67-year-old claimed that it was a “politically motivated fiction,” aimed at silencing him.
“The case was a political conspiracy to end my political carrier,” he said, saying evidence was in the government’s release of a statement saying “the judiciary is fair” just “five minutes after verdict was given.”
The case against Ibrahim was first heard in 2012, when he was acquitted. The prosecution appealed the decision and in March last year Ibrahim was convicted on the same charge, which he appealed and lost in February.
Ibrahim has been the main opponent of the ruling party, which has been in power since independence in 1957, since falling out with the government in the late 1990s.
The 2013 general election saw his opposition coalition came close to unseating the government in what Ibrahim dubbed the “worst electoral fraud in our history.”
Since the election, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government has adopted an increasingly authoritarian approach, cracking down on civil liberties and arresting student and civil society leaders.