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Malaysia high court refuses to dismiss sodomy charges against opposition leader

[JURIST] The Malaysian high court ruled [Bernama report] Tuesday that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] will stand trial on charges on sodomy early next year. Counsel for Anwar had argued for the case to be thrown out [Star report] since medical reports showed no conclusive proof of penetration, but Justice Mohamad Zabidin concluded that medical reports could not be used as a basis to strike out the charge. Anwar is accused of sodomizing his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari, in 2008. He has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] and contends that the charge is part of a government conspiracy to undermine his political agenda. The trial date has been set for January 25, 2010, and, if convicted, Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison.

The current sodomy charge is the second against Anwar in the past 11 years. Anwar was Malaysia's deputy prime minister until he was fired in 1998 following 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.

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