Anwar released on bail from sodomy charge

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Singapore, Aug 7: Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was released on a Malaysian Ringgit 20,000 bond after he pleaded not guilty to a sodomy charge in a Kuala Lumpur Sessions court on Thursday, Aug 7.

Sessions court judge S M Komathy Suppiah released Anwar, Malaysia's de facto opposition leader, on personal bond of RM 20,000 with no surety. Anwar, 60, is alleged to have sodomised his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23, at an upmarket apartment in Kuala Lumpur on June 26 between 1501 hrs and 1630 hrs. If convicted, he could face six to 20 years jail as well as whipping under Section 377B of the Penal Code.

''This is a slander, it is a malicious allegation and I am not guilty,'' Anwar told the Sessions Court after the charge was read.

The former deputy prime minister is challenging Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, claiming to have enough support of parliamentarians to form the next government.

He is contesting a by-election from his former constituency, Permatang Pauh in northern Peninsular Malaysian state of Penang. The by-election will be held 26 August, with nomination scheduled to close on 16 August.

He has represented the consitutency since 1982 but was disqualified when convicted under the last sodomy charge in 2000.

Anwar's wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has since been the member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh but resigned recently, paving the way for her husband to return to Parliament and lead the opposition by winning from his stronghold constituency.

Anwar has blamed Prime Minister Abdullah for bringing the sodomy charge against him as a way to stop him from contesting the by-election.

Addressing a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Anwar said he was determined to fight the by-election.

He said his Sarong (Malay Dhoti) and Songkok (Muslim cap) can even appear on his behalf at the constituency if the court rejects his bail.

Anwar is defended by a nine-member defence team while the four-man prosecution is led by Solicitor General Idrus Harun.


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