Accessibility links

Malaysian Opposition Leader Released on Bail

  • Chad Bouchard

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been released on bail after police arrested him on sodomy charges, Wednesday. Chad Bouchard reports from Jakarta.

Anwar Ibrahim was released Thursday, after spending the night in a Kuala Lumpur jail. A male aide last month accused him of sodomy, a crime which carries up to a 20-year jail term in Malaysia.

He failed to appear for questioning, Monday, and agreed to meet police Wednesday afternoon, instead.

But less than an hour before he was scheduled to appear, police stopped his car on a road outside his home, took him into custody and arrested him.

Anwar's wife, Azizah Ismail, told reporters she was disappointed about the way police handled the arrest, because he was on his way a 2:00 p.m. meeting at police headquarters when he was stopped.

"I regret the way they've done it," she said. "It was unnecessary. Then it gives a
connotation of it being political. If it had been just normal, he comes at two o'clock, there is no connotation that it is political. Now, it gives us suspicion that it is all political."

Anwar is leading a coalition that opposes the ruling party and has threatened to oust the government by September.

He denies the sodomy charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Malaysian Criminal Investigation Department Director Datuk Bakri Zinin, defends the arrest.

He says police wanted to make sure no one was hurt and wanted to avoid creating a commotion or doubts about the arrest. He says Anwar's rights were honored and that he was given access to his family and lawyers during the overnight incarceration.

Anwar refused to allow a DNA sample to be taken from him when police took him to a Kuala Lumpur hospital for a medical examination, Wednesday night.