Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim failed Tuesday in his bid to stop his sodomy trial from going ahead in another blow to his fluctuating fortunes since achieving spectacular election results last year.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court rejected Anwar’s application to have the case thrown out before it is heard in court, and set the trial date for Jan. 25. Anwar’s lawyer Sankara Nair said he will appeal the decision in the Appeal Court.
“I didn’t expect anything different,” Anwar, 61, told reporters after the ruling by Justice Mohamad Zabidin Diah.
Anwar was charged in August 2008 with allegedly sodomizing a 23-year-old male former aide. He has denied the charge. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of sodomy, a crime in this Muslim-majority country.
A medical examination of the aide conducted after the alleged sodomy showed no conclusive evidence of penetration. Therefore, Anwar’s lawyers argued, trying him for sodomy would be tantamount to abusing the justice system.
Mohamad Zabidin, however, rejected the argument, saying the prosecution might have other witnesses or evidence to prove its case. He also rejected the defence argument that the case was a “malicious prosecution.”
It is the second time that Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, has been accused of sodomy. He spent six years in prison between 1998 and 2004 after being convicted of corruption and of sodomizing his former family driver. Anwar insisted he had been framed and was freed when Malaysia’s top court overturned the sodomy conviction.
Anwar maintains that the new sodomy charge is part of a government conspiracy to undermine his three-party opposition alliance, which made massive gains in general elections last year. Government officials have denied any plot against Anwar.