News / Asia

Malaysian Opposition Leader Intends to Call PM to Testify in Sodomy Trial

Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, describes the case as a 'conspiracy' to end his political career

Multimedia

Audio

In Malaysia, the politically charged trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on charges of sodomy has begun.  The former deputy prime minister maintains the case is a conspiracy to end his political career. 

Lawyers for Anwar Ibrahim's said they intend to call Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife as witnesses.  They accuse the couple of taking part in a conspiracy to end Anwar's political career.

Reporters, legal observers, and diplomats from the United States, Japan and European nations packed the courtroom for the opening day of the trial.

In March of 2008 Anwar lead an opposition alliance, which won a third of the parliamentary seats in the general elections.  Five months later he was charged with sodomizing a 25-year-old male former aide.  Anwar denies the charges.

This is the second time Anwar has been charged with this crime. He spent six years in prison after being convicted of sodomy and corruption, following his ouster from the cabinet in 1998 during a power struggle with then leader Mahathir Mohamad.  He maintained his innocence all along and was freed in 2004 when Malaysia's top court overturned the sodomy conviction.

Political science professor James Chin, of the Monash University in Malaysia, says even if he is not convicted, the repeated charges of sodomy could hurt Anwar politically. 

"Sodomy is such a serious offense in a Muslim community," Chin said. "By charging him again with sodomy you simply reinforce the image that this guy is involved with other men."

A conviction could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years.  It also would bar Anwar from politics for five years from the date of his release. Defense lawyers say the trial could drag on for eight months.  Chin says the National Front coalition government wants the trial to last a long time. 

"I think the general consensus among the educated and middle class in Malaysia is that this is a politically motivated trial [and] the ruling party will try to drag it out as long as possible simply because they want to distract Anwar from using a stronger opposition," Chin said.  

But the trial could also stain Malaysia's long-held image as a moderate Muslim-majority nation.  In addition to this highly publicized trial, in the past few months there have been fire bombings and vandalism of churches and mosques over a religious dispute and a young woman was sentence to caning for drinking beer.  

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid