News24

Anwar sodomy trial to go ahead

2009-12-01 10:41

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was on Tuesday ordered to stand trial for sodomy in January, as a court turned down his bid to have the charges dismissed.

The High Court decision was the latest blow for Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who was sacked and jailed on separate sodomy and corruption charges a decade ago.

Anwar rallied the opposition to unprecedented election gains last year but faces 20 years imprisonment if he is convicted of sodomising 24-year-old Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who was an aide in his office.

High Court judge Zabidin Mohamad Diah rejected Anwar's argument that two medical reports on his accuser showed no sodomy had taken place.

"The medical reports alone cannot be used to strike out the case until all witnesses give their evidence," he told the court.

The judge also said Anwar's lawyers had failed to prove their allegations of conspiracy and bad faith on the part of Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail, who acted as a prosecutor in Anwar's original sodomy and corruption trials.

The opposition leader spent six years in jail until 1996 when the sodomy conviction was overturned.

"I'm worried and disturbed by the court's decision," Anwar said. "This is the first case in modern times where a court is ignoring medical reports which said there was no tear or penetration."

"I think we are in for a tough battle but we will fight hard," he said of the looming trial on charges which he says are a conspiracy aimed at ending his political career.

Zabidin set a date of January 25 for the sodomy trial, which has been delayed by a series of legal manoeuvres by the defence team, including a failed application to disqualify the prosecutors as biased.

Defence lawyers said they would lodge an appeal against the High Court decision on Wednesday and were also considering an application to halt the January 25 hearing.

Anwar said he objected to the trial proceeding while the nation's highest court, the Federal Court, is hearing a separate application for the defence to have access to key evidence including video footage and medical reports.

"Until now the documents I need to defend myself are not with us," he said outside the court.