Anwar Trial Set To Resume Tuesday
Associated Press, January 23, 2000
By Alvin Ung Associated Press Writer
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - After two months in isolation, a former
deputy prime minister whose ouster has divided Malaysia will return to the stand Tuesday
in his sex trial, where hes expected to launch more attacks against the prime
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sacked Anwar Ibrahim from his post in September 1998,
saying his longtime protege was unfit for government. Anwar was then convicted of
corruption and is serving a six-year jail term.
In a sordid sex trial that has scandalized this conservative Southeast Asian nation,
Anwar now faces 20 additional years if convicted of sodomy, a crime in Malaysia.
Anwars lawyers say they will produce witnesses who can provide alibis to prove
that Anwar did not sodomize his former family driver six years ago, as accused.
Anwar, 53, denies all the charges against him, saying they are part of a political
conspiracy to end his challenge to Mahathirs longtime rule.
Since the sex trial started in June, Anwar has accused Mahathir and his former Cabinet
colleagues of corruption, gambling and even involvement in murder. Anwar often sat in the
dock scrawling off-the-cuff statements accusing top government officials of fabricating
the charges against him.
The trial was postponed on Nov. 15 after High Court Judge Ariffin Jaka said he needed
medical treatment for a backache.
A few days after the postponement, Mahathir announced snap elections. His ruling
National Front coalition romped to victory in the Nov. 29 election, clinching a two-thirds
majority in Parliament.
Anwar initially said he wanted to run in the election, but was blocked by a law that
barred him because of his corruption conviction.
Instead, his wife, Azizah Ismail, won the seat Anwar had held for 16 years. But almost
all the other top candidates in the party that championed Anwars cause lost by
Since then, more Anwar allies have come under fire. Last week, courts charged three
opposition leaders with sedition and leaking state secrets, while two others were charged
with sedition. All five were arrested and released on bail.
Among those being prosecuted is Karpal Singh, a longtime Mahathir critic and
Anwars main defense attorney. Karpal was charged with sedition after he alleged
during the sodomy trial that "people in high places" had tried to poison his
Gobind Singh Deo, Karpals son and also a member of the defense team, said that
his father would continue fighting for Anwar, whose ouster and trials have dominated the
political scene here for nearly 1 1-2 years. Gobind described the sedition charge as
"Nobody intimidates us," he told The Associated Press. "We must be
assured that our role in court is free from any kind of interference or threat."
The defense expects the trial to last two more months. Anwars lawyers still want
Mahathir to testify as a witness, but many political observers believe the 74-year-old
prime minister will avoid taking the stand.
The trial has been interrupted several times since September, when Anwar spent several
weeks in a hospital for severe headaches and high blood pressure after claiming that he
was being poisoned in prison.
The former deputy prime minister, who is serving his sentence in a high-security prison
outside the capital, has been allowed hour long family visits once every three weeks.
Defense lawyer Sankaran Nair, contacted by telephone Sunday, said Anwar was in good
spirits and his health was improving.
"Hes a fighter," Sankaran said. "Hes not giving up."
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