Malaysia's Anwar to be investigated on sex charges: police

Agence France-Presse - 6/28/2008 5:11 PM GMT

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will be investigated over new allegations of sodomy, police said Saturday, the same charge that saw him jailed a decade ago.

Anwar's Keadilan party said that one of his aides, Saiful Bahari, had been arrested and "forced" to make a statement saying he was sodomised by the opposition leader.

"Yes, we have received a police report from an aide of Anwar Ibrahim that he was sodomised. But no, we will not arrest Anwar at the moment," said deputy police chief Ismail Omar.

"We will investigate this report first. We will look into it and carry out the necessary steps before issuing any warrant of arrest," he told AFP.

Keadilan officials said that Anwar and other top members of the party were holding crisis talks and feared that he could be arrested soon.

"The party's leaders are discussing the next step to be taken and an official statement will be released soon," an official said.

The charismatic leader of Malaysia's resurgent opposition was a respected deputy prime minister and finance minister until 1998 when he was sacked and later jailed on sodomy and corruption charges.

Anwar, who famously appeared in court with a black eye after being beaten by the police chief, said the charges were politically motivated.

He spent six years in jail until the sex charge was overturned, but the corruption conviction kept him out of politics until recently.

In March he led an alliance of opposition parties to unprecedented gains, wresting a third of parliamentary seats and five states from the Barisan Nasional coalition which has ruled for half a century.

Since then he has claimed he has the support of enough government lawmakers to form a new administration.

The opposition's success has badly shaken Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who has resisted repeated demands to step down over the election debacle.

A minor party in the ruling coalition this month called for an unprecedented vote of no-confidence in the premier, and left open the prospect of joining Anwar's opposition.

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