Malaysia’s Anwar Proclaims Innocence, Accuses Government of Conspiracy

Posted August 22nd, 2011 at 2:55 am (UTC-5)
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Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim proclaimed his innocence Monday when he addressed the court for the first time in his long-running sodomy trial.

In an hour-long statement which he read out, Anwar denied he ever had sexual relations with the 26-year-old former aide who is his chief accuser. Anwar described his prosecution as a “vile and vicious” attempt to destroy his reputation.

Anwar also accused the judge of conspiring with the government to send him into “political oblivion.”

However, the political leader did not appear on the witness stand, which would have made it possible for the prosecutors to cross-examine him. His lawyers will present other witnesses in the coming days.

Anwar's lawyers had sought to have the case dismissed in June, but a judge ruled that the prosecution case was credible and must be answered.

The trial was postponed earlier this month to allow Anwar's lawyers to interview potential witnesses, including Prime Minister Najib Razak. The former aide says he spoke to Mr. Razak before Anwar was charged.

If convicted, Anwar faces 20 years in prison. He was previously jailed on an earlier sodomy charge but that conviction was overturned by a higher court.

Anwar's party made major gains in Malaysia's last parliamentary elections. The next election is expected sometime next year.