Anwar seeks to clear his name

Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim, freed from jail last week, has sought to clear the way for his return to active politics with an attempt by his lawyers to have his criminal record wiped clean.

    Anwar maintains he has been innocent all along

    Anwar's legal team on Monday appeared before the same court that freed him from almost six years in prison to argue that his corruption conviction should be overturned, just as his conviction for sodomy had been quashed in last Thursday's shock ruling.

    "The circumstances in this case cry out for a remedy, namely that the conviction and sentence is set aside for Anwar Ibrahim to return to public life, public office...," lawyer Karpal Singh told the court, which later adjourned the hearing until Tuesday.

    No immediate ruling is expected.

    Under Malaysian law, the former deputy premier turned opposition reformer cannot lead a political party or stand for election until April 2008, unless the corruption conviction is quashed.

    "My father wants to clear his name more than anything else," Anwar's eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, said outside the courthouse, the scene of wild cheering by hundreds of Anwar supporters on Thursday when he was set free.

    "It's not just a question of politics. He has maintained his innocence all along of these charges."

    'Trumped up' charges

    Mahathir Mohamad is accused of
    wanting to ruin Anwar's career

    Anwar says the corruption and sodomy charges were trumped up by the administration of previous prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to ruin his political career after Anwar led street protests against the government, calling for reform.

    Mahathir, who retired last October after 22 years in power, denies having a hand in bringing the charges against Anwar.

    Suffering a debilitating back ailment, Anwar flew to Germany over the weekend for specialist surgery. He says he is in constant pain caused by a narrowing of his spinal canal, and has so far given few details of what political role he now intends to play.

    About 2000 supporters turned up at Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday night to give him a send-off, chanting "Long live Anwar". Aides had to hold back the crowd as he was pushed in a wheelchair towards the departure area.

    Anwar says his back condition was made worse by a police beating he received on his first night in detention in 1998.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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