Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of sodomy charges on Monday.

The court needed only two minutes to deliver the verdict that ended a three year-long ordeal.

I thank God for this great news. I am finally vindicated, Anwar told supporters.

Frankly it's a surprise. It's a pleasant surprise because looking at the process, looking at the trumped-up charges, looking at the fabrication of evidence, looking at the massive media campaign against me, no way can we get an acquittal, he said.

Anwar was arrested in 2008 for sodomizing a male aide 40 years his junior. Even though the alleged sex was consensual, Anwar could have been sentenced to flogging and 20 years in prison for the crime.

The 2008 case was the second sodomy case against Anwar. In 1998, Anwar -- then deputy prime minister -- was jailed for six years.

Anwar and his many supporters believed both instances to be political-attacks, and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were skeptical of the original charges.

The 2008 indictments against Anwar were waged after an election where the opposition leader and his party gained substantial ground on the ruling party.

Additionally, for many international leaders Malaysia's harsh punishment for sodomy was a blemish on the face of its Islamic-democracy.

The official charges against Anwar fell under the crime of unnatural sex, which is defined as carnal intercourse against the order of nature.

Acquittal

The case against Anwar was dismissed over questions concerning the DNA evidence. The prosecution collected samples from both men, but the court eventually ruled that the evidence was not conclusive enough to convict.

The court is always reluctant to convict on sexual offenses without corroborative evidence. Therefore, the accused is acquitted and discharged, said judge Zabidin Mohamad Diah.

Anwar said he was a little surprised by the verdict, but the thousands of supporters who gathered outside the Kuala Lumpur courthouse were overjoyed and celebrated in the streets.

This is a good result for (Anwar) and his wife and the processes of political liberalization which Prime Minister Najib has been leading for some years now, commented Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

I commend his government for that process of liberalization, open discussion, open engagement of difficult and sensitive political issues and this is a good decision by the Malaysian courts.

Andwar's opposition currently controls about one-third of the seats in Malaysia's parliament and will again take a run at the ruling party during the upcoming elections in 2013 that many expect could be held a year in advance.

This corrupt government will be toppled, Anwar told supporters on Monday.

Our only concern now is to ensure that the elections are held free and fair, Anwar said later from his home in Kuala Lumpur.

Given free and fair elections, I am confident, God willing, that we will win.