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Malaysian Opposition Leader Arrested


Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been taken into police custody in connection with sodomy allegations. Chad Bouchard reports from Jakarta.


Police arrested Anwar Ibrahim on a road near his home, Wednesday, less than an hour before he was scheduled to appear voluntarily for questioning about accusations that he sodomized an aide.

Witnesses say about a dozen police officers blocked a road leading from Anwar's home, stopped his car and took him into custody.

Speaking from inside the police headquarters, Tian Chua, spokesman for Anwar's The People's Justice Party, said their leader was needlessly arrested in a public place.

"Anwar's been arrested on his way actually to the police station. Basically it was a brutal and uncivilized way to handle the incident. And I cannot help but describe this as a provocation," he said.

Anwar denies the sodomy charge as a political conspiracy, but has agreed to cooperate with police.

He is leading a coalition of parties that threatened to unseat the government after the ruling party's dismal general election results in March.

Anwar refused to show up for a meeting with police, Monday, as a protest against being blocked from entering the parliament building to hear a debate.

Chua says what he calls "the strong arm tactics of the police" indicate increasing political instability.

"I think it's a prelude to a mass crackdown," he said. " Well, I expect they will use this case as a beginning of trying to destroy the democratic movement."

The sodomy accusation evokes an incident in 1998, when Anwar was forced to resign as deputy prime minister, amid similar accusations. He was jailed for six years on that charge, but the country's supreme court later overturned the conviction.

A sodomy conviction carries a prison term of up to 20 years in Malaysia.

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