Malaysia court rules sodomy case against opposition leader Anwar to continue

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[JURIST] A Malaysian court ruled Monday that prosecutors have enough evidence to pursue a sodomy case against opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim [official profile; JURIST news archive]. The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling [CNN report] forces Anwar to enter his defense to the charge that he sodomized a former male political aide. Judge Zabidin Mohamad Diah said the testimony of the aide was credible, finding the evidence sufficient for a prima facie case against Anwar. Under Malaysian law, sodomy is punishable by 20 years in prison regardless of consent. This is the second sodomy case launched against Anwar who is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes June 6. Anwar has consistently argued that the allegations are a politically motivated attempt to silence the opposition. The continuance of the trial may strengthen [Reuters report] Prime Minister Najib Razak’s majority government. A general election is expected to be called this year even though one is not due until 2013.

Anwar was arrested in July 2008 after he filed a lawsuit against his accuser [JURIST reports] in late June. Last December, Anwar filed a complaint [JURIST report] in a Malaysian court over a WikiLeaks [website] cable published by Australian newspapers stating he had engaged in sodomy. The leaked US diplomatic cable claimed Australia’s Office of National Assessments [official website] had concluded, in agreement with Singapore’s Intelligence Agency, that the sodomy charges against Anwar were the result of a set-up, but that he was in fact guilty of committing the acts. Last year, the Federal Court of Malaysia [official website], the country’s highest court, rejected Anwar’s 2006 defamation suit against against former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad [BBC profile] for allegedly suggesting at a human rights conference that Anwar was unfit for office because of his supposed homosexuality. Anwar was Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister under former Mahathir Mohamad until he was fired in 1998 following earlier sodomy charges of which he was initially convicted but later acquitted. He reentered Malaysian politics following the expiration of a ten-year ban [JURIST report] against him for unrelated corruption charges.

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