Police arrest Malaysia’s Anwar

Anwar says the allegations against him are politically motivated [AFP]

Malaysia’s de facto opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has been arrested shortly before he was due to give a statement to police over allegations that he sexually assaulted a male aide.

Anwar’s lawyer told Al Jazeera police stopped his client’s car near his home in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, at about midday on Wednesday and took him to police headquarters.

Earlier police had obtained an arrest warrant for Anwar, saying he had failed to respond to a request to be questioned over allegations made by a male former aide that he had been sodomised by Anwar.

Mohamad Bakri Zinin, head of the police criminal investigation department, had warned of “necessary action” should the de facto opposition leader fail to appear for questioning before the 2pm (06:00 GMT) deadline on Wednesday.

It is not clear why police acted before the deadline.

Anwar’s lawyer, Sankara Nair, had said his client would abide by the police order and was prepared to be arrested.

Sodomy is a non-bailable offence punishable by up to 20 years in jail in Malaysia.

Early this month, Anwar filed a defamation lawsuit against the 23-year-old man who claimed he was sodomised by the opposition leader.

Previous allegations

A similar sodomy allegation 10 years ago led to his sacking as deputy prime minister and a prison sentence, but the country’s highest court subsequently overturned the conviction.

He did, however, spend six years in prison on a related corruption charge.

Earlier this month he filed a police complaint against the country’s national police chief and the attorney-general over that incident, alleging the two had fabricated evidence against him.

Anwar, who on Tuesday debated with the information minister on the country’s recent massive fuel price hike, has repeatedly said the current sodomy allegation was politically motivated to stop his campaign to topple the Barisan Nasional government.

The one-hour debate with Ahmad Shabery Cheek was Malaysia’s first ever live television debate with a cabinet minister.


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