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Malaysia urged to drop sodomy charges against opposition leader

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Wednesday urged [press release] the Malaysian government to drop all charges against former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim [official profile; JURIST news archive]. Anwar is accused of inappropriate sexual advances toward a male aide in 2008. HRW alleges that the trial has been "plagued by serious due process problems and government interference" and that the government should therefore drop all charges against Anwar. HRW Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said, "[t]he government should end this charade of justice and drop the charges against Anwar. Every step of the way, the court has blocked Anwar's lawyers from preparing a thorough defense." Anwar's trial is expected to resume on March 25.

Earlier this month, the Malaysian Federal Court rejected Anwar's claim [JURIST reports] that his 1998 removal from office was unconstitutional. Anwar went on trial in July on new allegations of sodomy, to which he has pleaded not guilty [JURIST reports]. Anwar's attempts to have the case dismissed have been repeatedly rejected [JURIST report] by the court. Anwar was removed from office [BBC report] in 1998 and banned from political life [JURIST report] for 10 years amid accusations of corruption, abuse of office, and sexual misconduct of which he was acquitted in 2004.

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