Malaysia opposition leader Anwar to learn fate in sodomy case on Feb 10

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to the media after his final appeal against a conviction for sodomy was concluded at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya on Nov 7, 2014. Mr Anwar will learn on Feb 10 whether he will be jailed for
Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to the media after his final appeal against a conviction for sodomy was concluded at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya on Nov 7, 2014. Mr Anwar will learn on Feb 10 whether he will be jailed for five years on a contentious sodomy conviction, a judicial spokesman said on Monday, Jan 26, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will learn on Feb 10 whether he will be jailed for five years on a contentious sodomy conviction, a judicial spokesman said on Monday, a decision that imperils his political future.

"The Federal Court has fixed Feb 10 at 1am GMT to announce the verdict of Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy trial," said Mr Mohamad Aizuddin Zolkeply, spokesman for the nation's highest court.

The Federal Court heard Anwar's final appeal in November against the conviction and five-year jail sentence that was handed down by a lower court last March.

It was the second sodomy conviction in the 67-year-old's tumultuous political career. Sodomy is illegal in the Muslim-majority country.

Anwar has long dismissed the charge he sodomised a young male former aide as a fabrication by the country's long-ruling regime to thwart opposition gains.

The charge first emerged in 2008, shortly after the Anwar-led opposition dealt the government a historic parliamentary setback.

A guilty verdict would boot Anwar from Parliament, depriving the fractious three-party opposition alliance of its central figure.

A lower court initially acquitted Anwar in 2012, but the government appealed and won last year in a result that the United States said raised doubts about rule of law in Malaysia.

Anwar was a rising star in the ruling Umno in the 1990s, but a power struggled ended with him purged and jailed for six years on previous sodomy and corruption charges widely viewed as politically motivated.

That earlier sodomy charge was later dismissed.

Joining the opposition after his release, Anwar has helped lead it to unprecedented electoral gains in the multi-racial country with pledges to end corruption and UMNO's racially divisive politics.

The opposition won the majority of votes in 2013 elections but failed to take parliament due to Umno gerrymandering.