All eyes are on an expected five-member Federal Court bench in Putrajaya today as former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's review application to set aside the conviction and sentence for Sodomy II by another apex court panel will be heard.
It is one year and eight months since Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria led a five-member Federal Court bench to uphold the conviction and five years' sentence on Anwar, which the 68-year-old politician is currently serving at the Sungai Buloh prison.
This rare Federal Court review will essentially determine if the bench led by Justice Arifin, who wrote the unanimous decision, had erred in its decision to maintain the conviction and sentence.
If this new bench today determine that the earlier bench had erred, it can order Anwar to be released and thus allowing the PKR de facto leader to contest in the 14th general election, which is widely expected to be held next year. Or it can maintain the existing five-year sentence on Anwar, as the prosecution has not filed a review of the sentence.
Anwar's defence team will be led by former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram while it remains to be seen who will lead the prosecution team as attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali, who had earlier indicated he would lead the prosecution, is said to be overseas.
Anwar has maintained that the sodomy charge is a political conspiracy against him and the Kuala Lumpur High Court acquitted him on Jan 9, 2012. However, a three-member Court of Appeal overturned the decision and convicted him on March 7, 2013, just before Anwar was to contest the Kajang state seat to pave the way for him to be Selangor menteri besar.
The appellate court was delivered immediately after the submissions from the lawyers on the eve of Anwar’s nomination for the seat. Anwar said the rush to judgment by the Court of Appeal was to stop him from contesting the by-election. This controversial Court of Appeal decision was upheld by Justice Arifin on Feb 10, 2015.
Last night, Anwar's family held a solat hajat (special prayers) at the family home in Bukit Segambut. Also present was Anwar's wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Security is tight at the Palace of Justice as a limited number of seats in the courtroom are given out, while outside, Anwar's supporters are expected to gather in support of the former opposition leader. Malaysiakini is bringing the proceedings live.
[More to follow]