Malaysia court sets new date for Anwar sodomy trial | world | Hindustan Times
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Malaysia court sets new date for Anwar sodomy trial

world Updated: Jun 22, 2009 12:11 IST

AFP
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Malaysia's high court has set a new date for Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy hearing, his counsel said on Monday, voicing fears that the opposition leader will not get a fair trial.

Sankara Nair told AFP that the high court has said it will now try Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, July 8 rather than July 1 for sodomy charges levelled by a former aide.

"We are not fully prepared for the trial because we do not have the full set of documents. The prosecution has not given us crucial documents to help us in our defence. It will lead to (an) unfair trial," he said.

The lawyer said that among the documents the defence needs are witness statements, CCTV footage and original swabs taken from Anwar and his accuser for re-testing.

Sankara also said that the trial judge would hear Anwar's request to have the charge dropped on the same date.

"We maintain the charge is baseless and should be withdrawn. There is no case against Anwar," he said.

The opposition leader said last week that the charge against him should be dropped because it was a "political ploy" but vowed to fight hard in court to clear his name.

In an interview with AFP, he voiced concern false evidence would be introduced in a bid to jail him and end his political career.

"It's a convenient way for UMNO to get rid of me to settle their political problem," he said, referring to the United Malays National Organisation which is the dominant party in the ruling National Front coalition.

Anwar, 61, has consistently rejected the allegations levelled by a 23-year-old former aide -- the same charge that saw him jailed a decade ago -- as a government conspiracy to derail his plan to topple the ruling coalition.

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

Anwar has the best ever chance of ousting the weak National Front government that has ruled Malaysia since 1957 after the opposition deprived the government of a two-thirds majority in 2008 elections.

The opposition leader is currently out on a 20,000-ringgit bail (5,700 dollars) pending his trial but supporters have expressed fears that it might be revoked during the hearing.