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Malaysia government pushes DNA identification bill

[JURIST] The Malaysian government will table a bill at the August parliamentary session that would require criminal suspects to submit to DNA testing, according to a Monday report in the newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau [media website, in Malay]. If passed, the new law could compel Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to undergo DNA testing as part of an investigation into sodomy allegations [JURIST report] made against him by a former aide. The government has stated that the push to pass the bill is motivated by a desire to improve police crime-solving abilities, and is not an attack on Anwar, who last week said he has no confidence [JURIST report] in the Malaysian criminal system and doubts the credibility of DNA evidence. He added, "My accuser is still under police protection, and as such, any fabrication is possible if they take my DNA." The Straits Times has more. The Sun has local coverage.

Last week, Anwar was released on bail, one day after being arrested [JURIST report] by Malaysian authorities. Anwar has claimed that the sodomy allegations leveled against him are politically motivated. Under Malaysian law, sodomy is punishable by 20 years in prison regardless of consent. Anwar was Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister under former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad [BBC profile] until he was fired in 1998 following earlier sodomy charges of which he was initially convicted but later acquitted. He only recently reentered Malaysian politics following the expiration of a ten-year ban [JURIST report] against him for unrelated corruption charges. Earlier this month the Federal Court of Malaysia ruled he could challenge the constitutionality [JURIST report] of his original dismissal from office.

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