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Anwar held on sodomy charge

world Updated: Jul 16, 2008 21:42 IST
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Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been taken to hospital after his arrest on sodomy allegations, and is believed to be undergoing a medical examination, his party said on Tuesday.

“We think that he’s being taken for a medical examination but we’re not sure,” said Tian Chua, information chief for Anwar’s Keadilan party which leads a three-member Opposition alliance. “I don’t think this is necessary. If you need a DNA swab you can do it up there (in police headquarters), you don’t need to take a man to hospital for a DNA swab,” he said. “This is a big game being played out.”

Chua said Anwar was in good spirits despite having spent the afternoon in policy custody where he gave a statement over sexual assault allegations levelled by Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old former male aide.

“He’s quite cheerful. He’s fresh, relaxed and hoping this will be over soon,” he said. “We hope he’ll be released tonight but we don’t have any indication he will be released tonight.”

Saiful Izham Ramli, a member of Anwar’s legal team, also said he was unsure where Anwar would be taken after the hospital visit.

“We are not sure if they will release him tonight or hold him for further questioning,” he said.

Sodomy, even between consenting adults, is illegal in predominantly Muslim Malaysia and carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.

Police can detain Anwar for 24 hours, after which they must apply for a court order that would allow them to keep him for up to 14 days without charge.

About a dozen policemen, some of them wearing balaclavas, cordoned off the road leading to Anwar’s house and stopped his car, said his lawyer Sankara Nair.

He was bundled into a police car with dark tinted windows and driven to the police headquarters where

a crowd of opposition lawmakers including his wife Azizah Ismail gathered outside.

They were not allowed inside, and there was no trouble or violence. Azizah said Anwar called on her cell phone after being arrested.

“I feel apprehensive because my husband... is not that well. He has a bad back, he’s had surgery. And (during our) the brief conversation he said they (police) were not gentle,” she said.