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Malaysia opposition leader denies charges at sodomy trial

Malaysian opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim [official profile; JURIST news archive] testified for the first time Monday in his trial on charges of sodomy, denying the charges against him. Anwar testified that the charges against him were fabricated [AFP report] by Prime Minister Najib Razak [official profile] in order to ruin his political career. Anwar's lawyers are seeking to have Najib subpoenaed to testify, but the prime minister could apparently apply to have the subpoena set aside. Anwar is accused of sodomizing a former male political aide. Under Malaysian law, sodomy is punishable by 20 years in prison regardless of consent. This is the second sodomy case launched against Anwar.

In June, Anwar failed a third time to remove the judge [JURIST report] in his sodomy case. He was arrested in July 2008 after he filed a lawsuit against his accuser [JURIST reports] in late June. Last year, the Federal Court of Malaysia [official website], the country's highest court, rejected Anwar's 2006 defamation suit against against former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad [BBC profile] for allegedly suggesting at a human rights conference that Anwar was unfit for office because of his supposed homosexuality. Anwar was Malaysia's deputy prime minister under Mahathir until he was fired in 1998 following earlier sodomy charges of which he was initially convicted but later acquitted. He reentered Malaysian politics following the expiration of a ten-year ban [JURIST report] against him for unrelated corruption charges.

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