Malaysian opposition leader accused of sodomy
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was accused Saturday of sodomy, police and politicians said, sparking speculation that he might be arrested on the same charge that led to his imprisonment a decade ago.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says sodomy charges are a "repeat of the methods" used against him in 1998.
Anwar, who resurrected his political career after leading the opposition to spectacular gains in recent elections, denied the allegation, which he said was made in a police complaint filed by one of his male aides.
"The police report lodged against me earlier today is a complete fabrication," Anwar, 60, said in a written statement.
He contended that the report was engineered by "interested parties" to prevent him from exposing the national police chief and the attorney general for their alleged role in having him accused of corruption and sodomy in 1998.
Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, was ousted from government 10 years ago amid those accusations. He was convicted on both charges, but Malaysia's highest court overturned the sodomy conviction and freed him in 2004.
Anwar said in the statement that he "recently obtained" evidence implicating Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan and Attorney General Gani Patail of misconduct and fabricating evidence against him in 1998. He said he will release the evidence soon.
"I believe we are witnessing a repeat of the methods used against me in 1998 when false allegations were made under duress," Anwar said.
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The dramatic developments that began to unfold a little before midnight will have a severe impact on Malaysian politics, which have been thrown into turmoil since the March 8 elections in which the governing National Front coalition returned its worst-ever result.
The Front lost its traditional two-thirds parliamentary majority, returning to power with only a simple majority, and ceded control of five of Malaysia's 13 states to Anwar's three-party opposition alliance.
Anwar has since claimed that he has secured tacit agreements from at least 30 National Front lawmakers to defect to the opposition, enough to topple Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's administration.
Anwar claimed that the sodomy report was aimed at stopping the resurgent opposition from gaining ground.
"This is clearly a desperate attempt by the ... regime to arrest the movement of the Malaysian people towards freedom, democracy and justice," he said.
Kuala Lumpur's police chief for criminal investigations, Ku Chin Wah, said a man filed a police complaint late Saturday claiming that Anwar sodomized him.
"We are investigating the complaint," Ku said.
Sodomy, even if consensual, is punishable by 20 years in prison in Muslim-majority Malaysia.
Ku said police have no immediate plans to arrest Anwar, despite a cell phone text message sent by Anwar's People's Justice Party warning that he would be detained this weekend.
Ku declined to identify the man who lodged the complaint, but the People's Justice Party identified him as Anwar's assistant, who started working for him in March.
The party said it believed that the aide was coerced into making the accusation.
The aide "is a victim," said Sivarasa Rasiah, a top party official.
The aide was reported missing Saturday morning, and his whereabouts remain unknown, Sivarasa said.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad fired Anwar from the Cabinet in 1998 amid accusations that he sodomized his family driver and abused his power to cover up the deed. Anwar insisted that he was victimized by a political conspiracy to prevent him from challenging Mahathir for power.
Anwar did not personally run in the March elections because his corruption conviction barred him from holding political office for five years. The ban ended in April, and Anwar has since indicated that he wants to re-enter Parliament through a by-election, which would make him eligible to become prime minister.