Malaysia's Anwar faces sodomy inquiry

Anwar's private assistant, Saiful Bahari, lodged the police complaint.

Malaysia's Anwar faces sodomy inquiry

Malaysia's de facto opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, denied on Sunday allegations that he had sodomised an aide, saying the charges were an attempt by the government to discredit him.

A former deputy premier who was sacked in 1998 and later jailed for sodomy and corruption, Anwar has seen a revival of his fortunes since a March poll when the opposition alliance recorded its best ever election result.

Anwar says he has won enough support from ruling coalition lawmakers to form a new government by September, sparking fears of a change in economic policy and unsettling investors.

Anwar's private assistant, Saiful Bahari, lodged the police complaint.

"The police report lodged against me earlier today is a complete fabrication," Anwar said in a statement read out by his lawyer as about 200 of his supporters gathered outside a hotel where a news briefing was held.

Lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah said Anwar had not been arrested. An aide in Anwar's Justice Party said Anwar was waiting for police to take his statement.

Anwar accused the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition of trying to ruin him, and his wife said she had photographic evidence to show that the complainant was linked to an aide of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"This is the second political conspiracy," Wan Azizah Wan Ismail told reporters. "It's a political murder against my husband."

A spokesman for Najib declined to comment because of the ongoing police investigation.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dismissed Anwar's claims.

"Barisan Nasional has no intention of wanting to make life difficult for him or to harass him," Abdullah told reporters in the administrative capital of Putrajaya after launching an environmental project. "There is no such intention."

Federal criminal investigation chief Bakri Zinin said police received a complaint from a 23-year-old ethnic Malay man alleging he had been sodomised by Anwar at a condominium in Kuala Lumpur.

"We have taken the complainant to hospital," Bakri told reporters. "Police will be fair to both. For us this is just a mere allegation."

He declined to comment on a claim by Anwar's party that the report was made under duress.

Protest warning

Anwar has always said the earlier sodomy and corruption charges were trumped up after he fell out with then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar's opposition alliance has been snapping at the heels of Abdullah's government. Public anger against rising prices and the ruling coalition's dismal showing in the March poll have fuelled calls for a change in leadership.

The opposition alliance needs just 30 more seats to win a simple majority and form a new government. It won a record 82 seats in the 222-seat lower house of parliament in March.

Police warned Anwar's supporters against holding any public protests. His sacking in 1998 brought tens of thousands on to the streets.

"If you create havoc, we will deal with you," Bakri said.

Barisan suffered its worst electoral setback in 50 years in March when it lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority and ceded five states to the opposition.

Reuters

Last Mod: 29 Haziran 2008, 09:57
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