Anwar Ibrahim maintains there is a political conspiracy against him [AFP]

Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader, has suffered a setback in his sodomy trial, as a court decided to accept the key DNA evidence that had been earlier rejected as inadmissible.

The country's High Court, on Wednesday, said it would let prosecutors use the evidence in their bid to link Anwar to traces of semen found on his accuser, a 25-year-old former aide.

The surprise reversal of the decision came after an appeal by the prosecution, and after the court had heard new testimony from police.

"It is clear that [Anwar's] arrest was lawful and the detention was for a lawful purpose," judge Zabidin Mohamed Diah told a packed courtroom.

"This court has no choice but to allow these items to be tendered [as evidence]. My earlier ruling in the matter is reversed," he said, but added that the court would not compel Anwar to provide a sample of his DNA.

The court had previously ruled that DNA from a bottle, toothbrush and hand towel in Anwar's detention cell -taken without his consent - was obtained illegally, and was therefore inadmissible.

Vital evidence

The evidence is a vital part of the prosecution's effort to prove that Anwar had sex with Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, his former aide. A chemist had testified that the DNA on those items matched that of semen discovered on Saiful.

Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of sodomy, which is considered a crime in the Muslim-majority country.

Yusof Zainal Abiden, the government prosecutor, had asked the High Court to review its earlier decision about the illegality of the DNA evidence.

He urged the court to compel Anwar to provide his DNA as tests would show whether there was a match with the semen found in an internal examination on Saiful, who claims he was coerced into having sex with the politician at a Kuala Lumpur condominium in June 2008.

Anwar has refused to voluntarily provide a DNA sample because he fears authorities will tamper with it.

The opposition politician criticised the court's decision, insisting to reporters that authorities got the three items through "trickery and deception".

'Political conspiracy'

Sankara Nair, Anwar's counsel, said the judge did not take all the facts into consideration.

"We disagree with the decision because the judge says the arrest was legal but it wasn't just the issue of the arrest alone, it was also the violation of lockup rules and many other issues," he told the AFP news agency.

"There has also been no evidence given by any of the police officers at the lockup that these items were actually used by Anwar," he added.

Anwar maintains that the charges are part of a political conspiracy to remove him from politics.

He is also struggling with new allegations of sexual misconduct after a sex video depicting a man believed to resemble him was leaked under mysterious circumstances on Monday.

Anwar claims both the sodomy charge and the video were fabricated by the government to crush his political threat.

Authorities deny any conspiracy. And police said they were investigating the video, which has not been publicly circulated.

Source: Agencies