Malaysian Opposition Leader Busted for Sodomy

Anwar Ibrahim calls charges political
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2008 9:15 AM CDT
Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to supporters during a peoples gathering in Seberang Jaya, north of Malaysia, Saturday, July 5, 2008.   (AP Photo/Gary Chuah)
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(Newser) – Police in Malaysia have arrested the country's opposition leader and are questioning him over accusations of sodomy from a 23-year-old male aide, reports the AP. Anwar Ibrahim, whose party made major inroads against the government in March elections, claims that the charges are baseless. "This is not a criminal case but a political case," a spokesman said. Sodomy, even if consensual, carries a prison sentence of 20 years in Malaysia.

This isn't the first time that Anwar has faced such charges; in 1998, while deputy prime minister, he was tried for sodomy and convicted. Although those charges were later overturned, he served 6 years in prison on a related corruption conviction. Political tensions have run high in Malaysia since the election; Anwar and his wife, herself an opposition leader, have been seeking to topple the ruling coalition.