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Al Jazeera – Anwar arrested on sex charges July 16, 2008

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Dipetik dari Al Jazeera

Malaysian police have arrested Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto opposition leader, less than an hour before a deadline for him to appear at police headquarters to answer allegations of sexual assault.

About a dozen policemen, some wearing balaclavas, cordoned off the road leading to Anwar’s house in Kuala Lumpur, stopped his car and then took him to police headquarters, Anwar’s lawyer said.

Police moved in to arrest Anwar early on Wednesday afternoon as he was returning home from the Anti-Corruption Agency office in Putrajaya, the country’s administrative capital.

A former male aide has accused Anwar of sodomising him –  a criminal offence in Malaysia which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail.

No reason was given for the police move, which came ahead of a deadline of 2pm on Wednesday for Anwar to voluntarily submit himself for questioning over the allegations.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Syed Hamid Albar, Malaysia’s home affairs minister, said Anwar had “been arrested according to due process” and was not being treated differently from any other suspect.

“Now it’s up to the police and the prosecution side to decide the next course of action,” he said.

Anwar’s arrest is expected to deepen political divisions and tensions that have been running high in Malaysia since the governing coalition lost its parliamentary majority in the March general elections.

‘Not gentle’

Opposition legislators including Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anwar’s wife and leader of the opposition Keadilan party, had gathered outside police headquarters in anticipation of his arrest.

Wan Azizah said her husband, who is officially an advisor to Keadilan, called on her mobile phone shortly after being arrested.

“I feel apprehensive because my husband… is not that well,” she said.

“He has a bad back, he’s had surgery. And [during] the brief conversation he said they [the police] were not gentle.”

Earlier on Wednesday Anwar gave a statement to the corruption watchdog over reports he had lodged against the national police chief and the attorney-general.

“There is no basis for this whole fabrication and malicious attacks,” he said. “It is just a repeat of the 1998 script. You can see the pattern.”

Corruption complaint

Anwar claims the police chief and attorney-general had fabricated evidence in the investigation into his police detention in 1999, during which he was allegedly beaten up.

Speaking to reporters in Putrajaya before his arrest he said planned to give his “fullest cooperation” to police and would deliver himself voluntarily to police headquarters at the 2pm deadline.

Azmin Ali, vice-president of Keadilan, said the arrest was “certainly outrageous and very uncivilised” especially after Anwar had made an appointment with the police.

“This is not a criminal case but a political case,” he added.

In 1998 Anwar faced similar charges when he was accused of sodomising a male assistant.

The accusation led to his sacking from government posts of finance minister and deputy prime minister and an eventual jail sentence.

His conviction on sodomy charges was later overturned by Malaysia’s high court, but a related corruption conviction remains.

Anwar’s downfall sparked massive street protests for several weeks

The Age – Anwar arrested on sodomy charge July 16, 2008

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Dipetik dari The Age (Australia)

Mr Anwar Ibrahim speaks to the media before his arrest today.Mr Anwar Ibrahim speaks to the media before his arrest today.

Malaysian opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim has again been arrested for sodomy, setting the stage for political upheaval as his opposition party gains ground on the Government.

The arrest is a repeat of scenes a decade ago when the former deputy prime minister was arrested on sodomy and corruption charges after leading protests against then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The Government denied the sodomy allegation was a political conspiracy.

“The purpose of the investigations is not to fix someone but is to really help him clear his name,” Domestic Trade Minister Shahrir Samad said.

Mr Anwar’s lawyer said the opposition leader had agreed to meet police at a pre-arranged time over a sodomy complaint lodged by a former aide, but the arrest came about an hour before that.

“They say he was arrested under Section 377 of the Penal Code (sodomy),” Sankara Nair said. “He was arrested as a suspect in the case.”

“There was a lot of fear and intimidation. It’s absolutely unnecessary.”

Mr Nair said police could detain Mr Anwar for up to 24 hours, after which they would have to obtain a remand order from the court to allow further detention for up to 14 days without charging him.

Mr Anwar is leading a charge by the opposition to seize power by September.

The authorities sealed roads to the police headquarters where Mr Anwar was taken, while a water cannon was on standby and a helicopter circled overhead, as authorities braced for a possible repeat of 1998 protests when Mr Anwar’s arrest brought tens of thousands to the streets.

“Don’t provoke the people … why are police trying to test the people’s patience?” Azmin Ali, a leader of Mr Anwar’s People Justice Party, said.

“I am giving a very strong reminder to the police, don’t provoke us.”

Mr Anwar’s supporters have cast the sodomy allegation as an attempt by Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s Government to prevent the Opposition from gaining ground.

Federal criminal investigation chief Bakri Zinin confirmed that Mr Anwar had been arrested but declined to elaborate. Mr Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and later jailed for corruption and sodomy after leading street protests against then premier Mahathir Mohamad’s government during the Asian financial crisis.

The supreme court overturned the sodomy conviction six years later.

Mr Anwar today appealed for his supporters to remain calm if he was arrested.

“I appeal to them to exercise patience and let us deal with this according to standard procedures,” he said.

“We will challenge on every ground.”

Abdullah’s Barisan Nasional coalition is still trying to recover from a disastrous showing in a March general election, when it lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority and ceded five states to the opposition.


BBC – Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim arrested July 16, 2008

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Laporan dari BBC

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been arrested over allegations of sodomy, police and his lawyer say.

Armed police surrounded his car early on Wednesday and took him into custody, his lawyer said.

The move came shortly before Mr Anwar was due to given a statement to police over the claims made against him.

The former deputy prime minister denies the allegations, which he says are aimed at ending his political comeback.

The move is likely to exacerbate the political tensions that have emerged since the opposition’s unprecedented gains in the general election of March 2008.

Armed police

Anwar Ibrahim

Mr Anwar has been in a tense stand-off with police since a former male aide accused him of sodomy two weeks ago.

Sodomy is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

The 60 year-old opposition leader had been scheduled to report to police on Wednesday to be interviewed over the allegations.

But an hour before the meeting, armed police wearing balaclavas took him into custody outside the gates of his home, his lawyer said.

“The manner in which they surrounded our vehicle, it put a lot of fear and intimidation into us,” Sankara Nair said.

Deputy National Police chief Ismail Omar said Mr Anwar was now being questioned at police headquarters.

“We have to record his statement to complete our investigations,” he told the French news agency AFP. “Once the facts are in we can make a decision.”

Police can detain the opposition leader for 24 hours, after which they must apply for a court order for further detention.

Malaysian riot police

Police used tear gas and water cannon against Mr Anwar’s supporters in 1998

Political challenge

Mr Anwar’s arrest will be seen as provocative by Malaysian opposition groups.

When he was arrested on similar charges 10 years ago, his supporters staged large demonstrations.

A BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur, Robin Brant, says it is almost certain that the same thing will happen again now.

The allegations come only weeks after Mr Anwar said he was in a position to launch a challenge to the ruling coalition, with the help of government defectors.

The opposition leader made his claim at a time when Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is already under intense pressure to resign over poor election results and high fuel prices.

Mr Abdullah has said he will leave office in 2010, defying pressure to step down this December.