Court grants bail after Anwar Ibrahim pleads not guilty to sodomy charge.
“They are afraid of me being an MP and going on to become the opposition leader in parliament,” he said.
He was formally charged earlier this month, just after his wife vacated the Permatang Pauh constituency – which she has held since he went to jail – to allow him to return to parliament after a decade-long absence.
However, Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, Anwar’s accuser who is a 23-year-old former volunteer in the opposition leader’s office, visited a mosque on Friday to swear he was telling the truth and challenged Anwar to do the same.
He also said that he was sodomised against his will, although when Anwar was formally accused in court the charge indicated the alleged sex act was consensual.
|Anwar was sacked as deputy premier amid previous sodomy allegations [Reuters]|
Anwar was deputy premier until he was sacked in 1998 and convicted on sodomy and corruption counts. The sodomy conviction was later overturned.
Sodomy is a serious offence in Malaysia, a conservative and predominantly Muslim nation, and carries a penalty of 20 years imprisonment.
Anwar, representing his Keadilan party, is running against Arif Shah Omar Shah, a veteran member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which leads the the ruling National Front coalition, in the August 26 poll.
“I have known the people here and they know what to expect from me if I am elected. I am after all a two-term assemblyman and I have been doing my work since way back,” Arif said.
“I know Anwar well. We have been friends and I look forward to taking him on.”
In a racial breakdown that broadly mirrors the national population, more than two-thirds of voters in Permatang Pauh are Muslim Malays, alongside Chinese who make up 26 per cent and Indians at six per cent.