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Malaysia's Anwar,
Caught in New Sodomy Claim, Says He's Victim of 'Dirty
Conspiracy'

Malaysia's Anwar,
Caught in New Sodomy Claim, Says He's Victim of 'Dirty
Conspiracy'

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Tuesday he had an alibi to prove he did not sodomize a young man whose accusation has temporarily derailed his bid to reenter parliament and bring down the government. ''This government and this leadership is under siege,'' Anwar told a news conference. Anwar claimed the sodomy allegation was part of a political conspiracy -- a charge the prime minister later denied.

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Tuesday he had an alibi to prove he did not sodomize a young man whose accusation has temporarily derailed his bid to reenter parliament and bring down the government.

''This government and this leadership is under siege,'' Anwar told a news conference.

Anwar claimed the sodomy allegation was part of a political conspiracy -- a charge the prime minister later denied. ''I would advise them to drop the case,'' Anwar said. ''It is frivolous.''

Anwar faced a similar crisis when he was fired as deputy prime minister and convicted of sodomy in 1998. Malaysia's highest court overturned that conviction in 2004.

The fresh allegation, made Saturday by a 23-year-old worker in Anwar's office, came as Anwar was trying to engineer parliamentary defections from the ruling National Front coalition to topple the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Many see Anwar as a future prime minister, a job to which he has openly aspired. He recently led a three-party opposition coalition to spectacular gains in the March 8 general elections, which reduced the National Front's strength to 140 seats for a thin 30-seat majority in the 222-member parliament. Anwar has said he will be able to pull 30 lawmakers to his side by mid September.

But Anwar could not run for parliament in the March election, a prerequisite for becoming prime minister, and was going to announce plans to contest a by-election when the sodomy accusation broke.

''This [by-election plan] has been derailed for a few days,'' he said, vowing to ''fight every inch of the way'' to clear his name. ''No way I am going to give them an easy route this time. This is a second round of a dirty conspiracy,'' he said.

He said the government was trying to ''cause anxiety and disgust among Muslims'' against him.

There are no laws against homosexuality in Muslim-majority Malaysia, but sodomy, even if consensual, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Denying that he had any relations with his accuser, the 60-year-old Anwar said, ''I can tell you this is a conspiracy. I have all the evidence and alibis to support me.'' He said his lawyers had advised him against elaborating because investigations were under way.

Abdullah denied his government was using dirty tactics against Anwar.

''The government will not do anything to wrong somebody,'' Abdullah told reporters after meeting with Anwar's wife, Azizah Ismail. Azizah and Anwar have six children, including a daughter who also is a lawmaker, and she is the president of their opposition People's Justice Party.

Abdullah said he assured Azizah of Anwar's safety and of a fair investigation.

Also Tuesday, Anwar filed police complaints against the national police chief, Musa Hassan, and Atty. Gen. Abdul Gani Patail, accusing them of fabricating evidence during his 1998 sodomy trial.

Musa was the investigating officer and Abdul Gani the senior prosecutor when Anwar was tried for allegedly sodomizing his driver and an aide while he was deputy prime minister and finance minister. Anwar insists he was innocent and that he was framed because he challenged then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad for power.

Anwar was beaten up by then-police chief Rahim Noor while he was in police custody in 1998. Rahim pleaded guilty to assault in the case and later apologized to Anwar.

In his police complaint Tuesday, Anwar said Musa and Abdul Gani had fabricated a medical report to try to discredit his complaint against Rahim. The two officials were not immediately available for comment.

Although Anwar's 1998 sodomy conviction was overturned, he could not free himself from a related abuse of power conviction, which resulted in him being barred from holding political office.

That ban expired in April, a month after the general elections were held. He can reenter parliament through a by-election if a colleague vacates his or her seat. (Vijay Joshi, AP)

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