A Malaysian court is due to decide this week on an appeal by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim against a sodomy conviction and five-year prison term, with a ruling against him likely to all but end his political career and inflame tension.
A court convicted Anwar in March of sodomizing a former political aide and sentenced him to five years in prison. Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia.
Anwar, who in the mid-1990s was the ruling party's rising star before falling out with then premier Mahathir Mohamad, condemned the verdict as a "choreographed" travesty. Supporters and rights groups said it was politically influenced.
The government rejected the notion of political interference saying Malaysia had an independent judiciary and the case, brought by a former male political aide, was between two individuals and a matter for the courts.
The conviction, Anwar's second for sodomy, shattered his political plans which had been given a boost by opposition gains in a 2013 election. His lawyers appealed and a court will take up the case on Tuesday, with a decision possible on Wednesday.
If Anwar, 67, loses, he faces a return to jail and would be barred from contesting the next general election that must be held by 2018.
He told reporters on Monday he had decided he would not go abroad to avoid the possibility of jail.
"This is my country and I cannot imagine leaving," he said. "It's a tough choice. Imagine at my age having to go back to prison."
But he said he remained optimistic about the hearing: "Don't be surprised that I'll be a free man on Wednesday."
Human Rights Watch called last week on the government to end the "politically motivated prosecution" of Anwar. A ruling against him would anger his supporters who could take to the streets.