Monday, July 21, 2008

Govt interfering in sodomy probe: Anwar Ibrahim

( - Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has charged Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar with interference in the probe into the sodomy charge against Ibrahim levelled by an aide. He alleged it was at the behest of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Friday denied that anyone in his government was hatching any conspiracy against Ibrahim.

The probe would be allowed to be conducted unhindered, media reports Saturday quoted him as saying.

''It is to smear the credibility and reputation of our client. Syed Hamid should know better than to attempt to exert his influence on this matter, especially as he is a senior minister,'' Ibrahim's lawyer and political colleague R. Sivarasa said in a statement he issued at Ibrahim's house Friday.

On the other hand, the prime minister Friday challenged Ibrahim to immediately disprove the sodomy allegation against him by submitting to DNA tests.

Badawi said if Anwar had not committed the alleged crime, he should be willing to provide the sample without delay.

''If indeed he is not involved, give the sample now. He said he did not do anything. So he must give a fresh sample to prove that he did not do it. I want to see the results.''

Abdullah said the case could be concluded quickly. ''We want this to be resolved fast but (until Saturday) it still cannot be done,'' the New Straits Times said.

It's d j vu in Malaysia as L'affaire Anwar Ibrahim enters the second month with charges flying around just the way they did ten years ago.

Then deputy prime minister Ibrahim was slapped with a sodomy charge, combined with corruption. He was sacked by then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

He was prosecuted and suffered a long jail term. A court acquitted him in 2002.

The sodomy charge came back to haunt Ibrahim last month when Mohammed Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23, a political aide he employed during the March elections, charged him with having sodomised him more than once in a posh Kuala Lumpur house.

Ibrahim has vehemently denied this, saying that all this was meant to prevent his return to parliament in a by-election.

He has emerged politically strong since the March election when an opposition alliance he leads won an unprecedented 62 seats in parliament and now controls five of the 13 states.

His wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is now leader of the opposition in parliament.

A ban on contesting elections imposed by a court on Ibrahim ended in April. Armed with the renewed political support, he had planning to get one of his supporters to vacate a parliamentary seat and contest a by-election.

He says his entry into parliament was sought to be stopped by the sodomy charge.

Last month witnessed high drama with Ibrahim taking refuge in the Turkish embassy, saying he feared for his life.

The diplomatic spat between Malaysia and Turkey, ignited by Ibrahim's refuge in Turkish embassy, was overtaken when the US state department cautioned Kuala Lumpur against a ''politically motivated probe'' on Ibrahim.

The Badawi government took strong exception, calling it an ''interference''. Besides the government and the ruling coalition lawmakers, the media went to town asking the US ''not to throw stones from a glass house''.

The US's own record in Guantanamo Bay against suspected Al Qaeda fighters and in Iraq was sordid, the New Straits Times said in an editorial.

The crisis was not abetting since Ibrahim was arrested, his statement recorded on the sodomy charge and released on bail earlier this week.

He says the same officials - Attorney General Gani Patail and police chief Musa Hasan - were the ones who fabricated charges against him ten years ago and are now holding key positions.

In order to placate public opinion at home and to ward off international criticism - the US had spoken up for Ibrahim ten years ago as well - the government ordered a probe against the two officials now holding top positions.