Malaysia’s Anwar loses bid to drop sodomy charge

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia’s Appeals Court rejected Monday a bid by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to have a sodomy charge against him dropped, amid allegations of an affair between a government prosecution lawyer and the key witness.

Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of sodomizing Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Anwar insists the government concocted the charge in 2008 to sideline him after his opposition alliance made unprecedented electoral gains. Government authorities deny conspiring against Anwar.

Anwar has insisted the sodomy charge be dropped after allegations surfaced that a young female prosecution attorney involved in the trial had an affair with Anwar’s accuser, the 25-year-old male former aide Saiful.

Neither the female attorney, nor Saiful responded to the affair allegations.

Anwar’s defense team has argued that attorney Farah Azlina Latif might have leaked confidential information to Saiful, tainting the case against Anwar. The prosecution has dropped Farah Azlina from its team, and said she was a junior member who played a minor role in the case.

The High Court last month ruled the alleged affair may be true because the prosecution did not directly confirm or deny the accusation, but it said it didn’t compromise the prosecution’s integrity.

The Appeals Court upheld that ruling Monday, said defense lawyer Sankara Nair.

“Justice was not served … the right to be heard was not there. It was an absurd judgment,” Anwar said.

The defense team will now take its argument to the country’s top court, the Federal Court, Nair said. That move will further delay Anwar’s sodomy trial, which has been deferred since Aug. 16.

It is the second time Anwar has been accused of sodomy, a crime in this Muslim-majority country. He was imprisoned for six years starting in 1998 for sodomy and corruption.

The sodomy conviction was later overturned. -arabnews