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Malaysia sodomy trial halted
Proceedings halted as lawyers for opposition leader seeks to remove presiding judge.
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2010 09:34 GMT
Anwar Ibrahim said the 'political trial' is designed
to end his career as a politician [AFP]

The high-profile sodomy trial of Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader, has been temporarily halted after his lawyers moved to have the presiding judge disqualified.

Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah adjourned the trial on Monday, and the following day will hear an application by the defence team to remove him from the proceedings.

Anwar said he faced a "real danger of bias" after the high court judge made several technical rulings last week against the defence's application to rein in biased media coverage.

The trial, which began last week, centres around charges that Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, sodomised Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 25-year-old male former aide, at an upscale private condominium in June 2008.

Defence objection

The defence team on Friday objected when Utusan Malaysia, a Malay-language daily newspaper linked to the government, ran photographs of the court's closed-door visit to the apartment where the alleged sexual encounter took place.

Related

 Anwar: Sex claims are
  'vendetta'
 Anwar's comeback 
 
Malaysia's Anwar faces trial

The judge refused a request to admonish the newspaper over the photograph, as well as an earlier headline which the defence said suggested Anwar and Mohd Saiful had sex more than once.

Mohamad Zabidin told Anwar's lawyers they should file a police complaint if they believed the daily's coverage was malicious.

Anwar said the local media has already condemned him as they did in 1998 "without [giving me a] chance to listen to my reply".

"There has been a departure from the standard of even-handed justice which the
law requires," he told reporters.

"What we are asking for is a fair trial," he said. "Clearly it's a political trial, there's no doubt about it."

Anwar claims the charge is part of a government plot to undermine his opposition alliance, but government authorities have denied any conspiracy.

Source:
Agencies
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