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Malaysia's Opposition leader accused of sodomy


First published: June 30, 2008, 9:17 PM IST | Updated: June 30, 2008
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Malaysia's Opposition leader accused of sodomy
Ibrahim has filed a defamation suit against a male aide who has accused him of sodomy.

New Delhi: Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has filed a defamation suit against a male aide who has accused him of sodomy. This is the second time Ibrahim, who many feel could be Malaysia's next prime minister, has been accused of sodomy.

The first time, he was accused a decade ago and was even convicted of sodomy and corruption. The conviction was believed to have been politically motivated.

Ibrahim has taken refuge in the Turkish Embassy claiming a threat to his life.

The dramatic developments that began to unfold a little before midnight Saturday will further roil Malaysian politics, which have been in turmoil since March 8 elections handed the governing National Front coalition its worst-ever result.

A three-party opposition coalition led by Anwar made spectacular gains, winning an unprecedented 82 seats in the 222-member Parliament and the legislatures of five states. Anwar has threatened to engineer defections from the National Front -- which has ruled continuously since 1957 -- to bring down the government by September.

In a statement posted on his blog, Anwar said the political developments put his life in danger. "Certain agents" in the National Front "have initiated plots" to harm him, he said.

"I have been told that my assassination has not been ruled out as means to subvert the people's will and bring an end to the transformational changes taking place in Malaysia," Anwar said.

He added that he remained committed to work toward a "free and just Malaysia."

Several embassies offered to shelter him but Anwar chose the Turkish mission because of his close ties with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Badrul Hisham Shaharin, a senior member of Anwar's People's Justice Party.

It was not clear how long he would stay there, even though police say they do not intend to arrest him before investigations are complete.

More than 50 supporters gathered outside the embassy anticipating a visit by Anwar's family. Police blocked roads in the area in an apparent security precaution.

Anwar's wife, Azizah Ismail, described the sodomy accusation as an attempt at "political murder."

(With inputs from agencies)

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