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Malaysia court rules sodomy ban constitutional

[JURIST] An appeals court in Malaysia ruled on Tuesday that the country's ban on sodomy is constitutional. The court made the ruling [AFP report] while considering the appeal of Abdul Rahim Abdul Rahaman, who was convicted of sodomizing a 14-year-old boy and sentenced to 60 years imprisonment. Abdul Rahim claimed the intercourse with the boy was consensual, but the court said that was irrelevant, rejecting arguments that the ban violates the Malaysian Constitution [text, PDF], which prohibits discrimination.

This ruling could have implications for the trial of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim [official website; JURIST news archives], who is accused of sodomizing his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari, in 2008. Anwar has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] and contends that the charge is part of a government conspiracy to undermine his political agenda. Anwar's counsel sought unsuccessfully [JURIST report] to have the case thrown out last month. This is the second sodomy charge 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. The trial date [Bernama report] for this second charge of sodomy against Anwar has been set for January 25. If convicted, Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison.

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