Malaysia court adjourns opposition leader's trial after alleged prosecutorial misconduct

[JURIST] A Malaysian court on Monday granted a defense motion to adjourn the sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for a week. The move comes after the defense tried to have the charges against Anwar quashed [Bernama report] after allegations of an affair between a prosecutor and Anwar's accuser surfaced. In adjourning the case until next Monday, Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah of the High Court [GlobaLex backgrounder] said that he would hear arguments from both sides [Al Jazeera report] on whether to resume the trial at that time. Anwar has described the charges as a farce aimed at preventing him from taking his seat in Parliament [official website] following the gains made by his party in the 2008 elections. He is charged with sodomizing his former aid Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008. He pleaded not guilty in February [JURIST report]. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the Malaysian government to drop all charges [JURIST report] against Anwar. 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." Earlier that month, the Malaysian Federal Court rejected Anwar's claim [JURIST reports] that his 1998 removal from office was unconstitutional. Anwar was Malaysia's deputy prime minister until he was fired and then jailed in 1998 following corruption and sodomy charges, of which he was acquitted in 2004. He recently reentered Malaysian politics following the expiration of a 10-year ban [JURIST report] against him for unrelated corruption charges.

 

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