Anwar's former lawyer killed in car crash

2014-04-17 11:50
Karpal Singh (AP file photo)

Karpal Singh (AP file photo)

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Kuala Lumpur - A leading Malaysian politician who gained fame defending opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in his sensational sodomy trials was killed in an early morning road accident on Thursday, police said.

Karpal Singh, aged 73, was killed along with a long-time assistant when his vehicle struck a slower-moving lorry on a highway in the northern state of Perak, state police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah said.

Anwar wrote on his Facebook page: "We've lost a colleague. An indefatigable fighter for justice. The legendary Karpal Singh. Our sincere condolences to the family. RIP."

The outspoken Karpal - wheelchair-bound following a 2005 road accident - emerged as a leading lawyer in the 1970s.

He was detained in 1987 for more than a year under a tough crackdown on opposition figures.

He later went on to defend Anwar, who was ousted as Barisan Nasional (National Front) deputy premier in 1998 and charged with sodomy and corruption.

‘Political intimidation’

Anwar, who called the charges bogus and politically motivated, spent six years in jail.

He later returned to politics, leading a disparate political opposition to stunning electoral successes that have brought it to the cusp of power.

Karpal again defended Anwar against new sodomy charges brought in 2008. Anwar was acquitted in 2012 but that was overturned by a higher court in March, and he now faces five years in prison.

Anwar plans to appeal.

Karpal, an ethnic Indian, was convicted in February of sedition in a ruling he denounced as "political intimidation" by the Barisan regime.

The case stemmed from comments he made in 2009 that were deemed to have questioned the actions of Perak's ceremonial Islamic sultan.

Multi-cultural Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, and strict laws forbid criticism of its nine state sultans.

Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged in 2012 to abolish the Sedition Act but authorities have continued to use the law, mainly against opposition figures.

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