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Malaysia opposition leader's sodomy trial concludes

The two-year sodomy trial of Malaysian opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim [official profile; JURIST news archive] came to a close Thursday with the prosecution delivering its closing arguments. Under Malaysian law, sodomy is punishable by 20 years in prison regardless of consent. The charges against Anwar allege that he sodomized a former male political aide. This is the second sodomy case launched against Anwar, who has consistently argued that the allegations are a politically motivated attempt to silence the opposition. He took the stand in August to deny the charges, and the defense rested its case [JURIST reports] in October. The verdict is scheduled to be delivered January 9.

A Malaysian court ruled [JURIST report] in May that prosecutors had enough evidence to continue to pursue a sodomy case against Anwar. The opposition leader was arrested in July 2008 after he filed a lawsuit against his accuser [JURIST reports] in late June. Last December, Anwar filed a complaint [JURIST report] in a Malaysian court over a WikiLeaks [website] cable published by Australian newspapers stating he had engaged in sodomy. Last year, the Federal Court of Malaysia [official website], the country's highest court, rejected Anwar's 2006 defamation suit [JURIST report] 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 former Mahathir Mohamad 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 10-year ban [JURIST report] against him for unrelated corruption charges.

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