Malaysian court extends bail for Anwar in sodomy case

Other News Materials 10 September 2008 09:32 (UTC +04:00)

A Malaysian court on Wednesday extended bail for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim after postponing a hearing on a sodomy charge against him, reported dpa.

Anwar, who is currently out on bail of 20,000 ringgit (6,050 dollars), arrived at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court accompanied by his family and attorney.

Judge SM Komathy Suppiah postponed the hearing to September 24 to decide on a prosecution request for the highly publicized case to be transferred to the High Court, a move opposed by the defence.

In spite of a heavy police presence and tight security around the court building, hundreds of Anwar's supporters gathered outside the courtroom and cheered the politician when he arrived.

In June, a 23-year-old former aide accused Anwar of sodomizing him.

Anwar, 61, denied the allegations and claimed he is being framed by senior police officers and politicians in a bid to thwart his rising political career.

If he is found guilty of the charge, Anwar could be imprisoned for up to 20 years.

Last month, Anwar marked his return to Parliament after a 10-year hiatus when he won a special election in northern Penang state by a landslide.

Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, also led a three-party opposition coalition to unprecedented gains in the country's March 8 elections.

The coalition denied the ruling National Front a two-thirds majority in Parliament and took control of five of Malaysia's 13 states.

The latest criminal case is the second time that Anwar has had to fight off sodomy allegations.

In 1998, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad fired Anwar as his deputy, and Anwar was charged with corruption and sodomy. Anwar was convicted on both charges, but the sodomy conviction was subsequently overturned, and he was released from prison in 2004.

Anwar has maintained those charges were trumped up to avert a political challenge to Mahathir.