Lurid testimony closed to public as sodomy trial resumes against Malaysian opposition leader

By Eileen Ng, AP
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lurid testimony at Anwar trial closed to public

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — More lurid sex allegations were heard behind closed doors Thursday at the sodomy trial of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who says the charges are a government conspiracy to stop him from seizing power.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court closed the trial to the media and public after Anwar’s accuser on Wednesday gave explicit details of the alleged sodomy.

A conviction could send Anwar to jail for a maximum of 20 years. It also could set back Anwar’s opposition alliance, the only significant rival to the government coalition that has been in power since independence in 1957.

Anwar, 62, is accused of sodomizing 24-year-old Saiful Bukhari Azlan, his former election worker and aide, on June 26, 2008, at a private condominium. Saiful lodged a police complaint two days later.

Malaysian newspapers reported on the first day of the trial on their front pages Thursday, some printing suggestive headlines.

This is the second sodomy trial against Anwar, a crime that also carries a social stigma in the Muslim-majority country.

He was in prison from 1998 to 2004 for alleged corruption and sodomy before the sodomy conviction was overturned. Anwar, who was deputy prime minister in the 1990s, maintained his innocence then, insisting he was framed to prevent him from challenging then-leader Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar’s People’s Alliance made huge gains in the 2008 general elections and supporters hope it will come to power in the next elections due in 2013. Anwar, who is married with six children, is seen as a potential prime minister.

On Wednesday, Saiful testified he went to the condominium to discuss Anwar’s work schedule, but Anwar instead used English profanity to ask him whether he wanted to have sex.

When he refused, Anwar ordered him to go to the master bedroom, Saiful said. Anwar then drew the curtains and turned the lights off before telling Saiful to go into the bathroom to wash himself, he said.

Saiful said he obeyed and then came out wearing only a towel. Anwar, who was standing by the bed and also wearing a towel, asked Saiful to come over and hugged him, Saiful said.

At that stage of the testimony, Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah agreed to record the rest of Saiful’s testimony behind closed doors.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied conspiring against Anwar. But any doubts in the public mind about the fairness of the charge or the trial would boomerang on Najib, whose government faces rising religious tensions after attacks on churches last month.

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