Last edited: November 06, 2004

Anwar Charged with Sodomy

PlanetOut, September 30, 1998

Beaten and brought to court under heavy guard, Malaysia’s pro-reform ex-No. 2 man could get 20 yrs. and be whipped for dubious sex charges, while demonstrations and arrests go on.

A convoy of police vehicles brought Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim to a Kuala Lumpur courtroom September 29 to be formally charged with four counts of sodomy and five of corruption. Anwar, jailed since September 20 under the Internal Security Act, pleaded not guilty to all counts; a tenth count, also on sex charges, is expected to be brought shortly in a different courtroom. The maximum penalty for the sodomy charges is 20 years’ imprisonment and whipping, according to an attorney in an interview with Reuters; the attorney did not know the maximum punishment for the corruption charges.

At prosecutors’ request, the trial was moved from the sessions court to the High Court. Anwar’s bail request will also be heard there, but Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has already told the parliament that Anwar’s detention will continue, lest he "incite" still more of the large demonstrations which have taken place even while he has been in custody.

Anwar showed bruises and scars one of his lawyers said resulted from beatings from police, beginning while he was still handcuffed and blindfolded. The attorney says Anwar’s repeated requests for medical attention were denied until the fifth day, when a police doctor treated him. Requesting an independent medical examination, Anwar told the court he fears for his life.

Although hundreds of riot police surrounded the courthouse to prevent Anwar’s supporters from gathering, his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and at least two of their six children arrived at the courthouse soon after Anwar.

Sixteen of Anwar’s supporters have also been jailed, and more than 150 people have been arrested in the series of demonstrations since his detention. One of 60 arrested on Monday was Tien Chua, chair of the Coalition for People’s Democracy, a group of 18 organizations including opposition political parties, even though the Coalition had cancelled its planned September 28 launch event, reportedly under police pressure.

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