Anwar Pleads Innocent in Malaysia
Associated Press, September 29, 1998
By Ranjan Roy
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Malaysias former deputy prime
minister said Tuesday he was beaten unconscious while in police detention and showed the
court a bruised face and body at his arraignment on corruption and sex charges.
In his first public appearance since his arrest nine days ago, Anwar Ibrahim who
is fast becoming a symbol of opposition to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamads 17 years
of rule pleaded innocent to the nine charges against him.
Outside, riot police with assault rifles patrolled the streets to keep Anwars
supporters from swarming the courthouse.
Since Anwars arrest, Kuala Lumpur has been rocked by street protests demanding
his release and Mahathirs resignation. Every day since Friday, several thousand
people have defied arrest and police batons to gather and shout "Reform!" During
Mondays demonstration, at least 80 protesters were arrested.
Anwar, 51, hugged his wife and daughter when he saw them in court. He pointed to large
bruises above his left eye and on his neck and rolled up his shirtsleeves to show his
family the marks of police beatings on the first night of his custody, witnesses in the
The former deputy told the court he was led handcuffed and blindfolded to a police
lockup, where he was greeted with thundering punches that bloodied his nose, cracked his
lips and left his eye swollen shut for two days.
"I was boxed very hard on the left temple and right part of my head and
neck," Anwar said, according to his lawyer, Pawancheek Marican.
He said he fell unconscious until morning. But his pleas for a doctor were ignored even
when he told police he could not see with his left eye, walk properly or use one of his
arms, Marican added.
Anwar also said police moved him to solitary confinement on the third day of his arrest
and hustled him to and from various secret hideouts. A police doctor was allowed to treat
him on the fifth day of his detention, during which neither his lawyers nor his family
were allowed to see him.
On Tuesday, police tried their best to keep him out of sight, whisking him from a
four-wheel drive vehicle into a secret passageway that led into the second-floor
The court granted Anwars appeal for a medical examination. Anwars wife,
Azizah Ismail, said later that an eye doctor examined her husband and determined that his
retina wasnt permanently damaged for now.
"When I first saw him, I was shocked and stunned," said Azizah, who is an eye
doctor. "After all hes been through, his spirit is very strong and Im
proud of that."
Anwar was arraigned on four counts of illegal homosexual acts during his tenure as
finance minister and deputy prime minister before Mahathir fired him Sept. 2. The charges
are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and lashes with a whip.
The five corruption charges relate to alleged misuse of his ministerial powers to
thwart the investigation of the illegal sex charges against him.
Anwars bail plea was referred to the higher court that is to try him soon in a
landmark legal case in this Islamic country. No other senior politician has faced such
charges of committing illegal homosexual acts.
Anwar replied, "Not guilty, I claim trial," as each charge was read out
before Judge Hasnah Hashim.
Mahathir has said that he was compelled to fire Anwar because of the allegations of
homosexuality against his deputy. But Anwar says that he incurred Mahathirs wrath by
challenging his rule.
Since his firing, Anwar led a campaign against his former boss, saying Malaysia needed
a more liberal government, a cleaner administration and a media that was not shackled to
The crackdown on Mahathirs critics has continued away from the scene of
demonstrations. On Tuesday, police said three people, including one of Anwars
defense attorneys, were jailed under the harsh Internal Security Act the same act
used against Anwar which allows indefinite imprisonment without trial.
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