Gore: Anwar trial a 'mockery'

former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar could be in jail until 2014

US Vice President Al Gore has denounced the sodomy trial of former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim as a "mockery".

His comments follow a flood of international criticism at Anwar's conviction at the end of a 14-month legal battle.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has defended the trial, saying his former protégé had had plenty of time to defend himself in a fair court.

The show trial ... mocked international standards of justice

Al Gore

Anwar was sentenced to nine years in jail for sodomy - to be added to a previous prison term imposed for a corruption conviction.

Sacked as finance minister and deputy prime minister in September 1998, Anwar had testified that the prime minister framed in a sex scandal to drive him out of office and wipe out a potential leadership challenger.

'Deeply disturbed'

Mr Gore, who is running for US president, said the verdicts were politically motivated to keep Anwar from power.

US Vice President Al Gore

Al Gore has criticised the Anwar trial before

"I am deeply disturbed by the verdicts handed down in Malaysia in the case of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his adopted brother," he said in a statement from Washington.

"The show trial the two men were forced to endure mocked international standards of justice,"

The statement listed details of the trial, and alleged police had coached opposition witnesses and efforts to intimidate Anwar's lawyers.

"In the interest of justice and fairness, I hope the appeals process will overturn these verdicts," said Mr Gore.

'Normal trial'

His comments were in line with the official US reaction to the verdict issued by the State Department on Tuesday.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

Mahathir: Conspiracy "impossible" on such a scale

"The United States is very distressed by the convictions of the former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and his adopted brother on sodomy charges," said departmental spokesman Richard Boucher.

But in comments on the ruling UMNO party's website, Mahathir said the court had made its decision.

"It is a normal trial, there is no conspiracy. It is impossible in Malaysia to have a conspiracy on such an extent involving literally hundreds of people," the premier said.

This is not the first time Mr Gore has clashed with the Malaysian Prime Minister. There was a row in 1998 when Mr Gore said he was troubled by allegations that Anwar had been beaten up.

Four months later Mahathir retaliated with stinging remarks at a rally.

"We should fry him. Al Gore does not love Malaysia nor its people. Al Gore and his government only wants to manipulate and control our country," the prime minister said.

Anwar and Sukma Darmawan were convicted of sodomising Azizan Abu Bakar, a former Anwar family chauffeur, between January and March 1993.