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Malaysian Opposition Leader to Remain in Police Custody


Lawyers for Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim say he will remain in police custody after being arrested for allegedly sodomizing a former male aide.

Anwar's lawyer Sankara Nair told reporters Wednesday that he has no idea how long he will remain in detention. His lawyer says the excuse authorities are using to hold him longer is that they need to take further statements.

Malaysian police officers, some of them wearing ski-masks, arrested Anwar outside his home Wednesday. After several hours of interrogation he was taken to a hospital for a medical examination, but then returned to police headquarters.

Anwar was scheduled to give police his statement Wednesday, but his arrest came before he could voluntarily respond to the sodomy allegations.

Anwar says the accusations are part of a plot by Malaysia's ruling party to keep him from taking power.

His arrest this time comes as the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is under increasing pressure.

In March, Anwar led the opposition to a stunning electoral victory, breaking the ruling National Front coalition's two-thirds-majority hold on parliament for the first time in four decades. The opposition also won control of five states.

Anwar says he has the support of enough lawmakers to topple Mr. Abdullah's administration and form a new government.

His arrest today was reminiscent of similar events in the 1990s when he was dismissed as deputy prime minister in 1998 after being charged with sodomy and corruption.

He was eventually convicted and spent six years in jail, but the sodomy charges were later overturned.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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