Defense urges acquittal in Malaysia Anwar sex case

AP News
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Posted: Dec 12, 2011 1:44 AM
Defense urges acquittal in Malaysia Anwar sex case

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's defense lawyers urged Malaysia's High Court on Monday to acquit him on sodomy charges, claiming the man who accused him is a liar.

Anwar's defense was presenting its closing arguments in a trial that could lead to a 20-year prison sentence if Anwar is convicted of sodomizing a 26-year-old male former aide.

Opposition supporters believe the government orchestrated the case to destroy its main political foe ahead of national elections widely expected next year. Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied any conspiracy.

Anwar's chief attorney, Karpal Singh, told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that testimony by Anwar's accuser, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, was "unworthy of belief."

Saiful has said that Anwar, 64, coerced him into having sex at a Kuala Lumpur apartment in June 2008. Sodomy, even consensual, is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Karpal said it was difficult to imagine that Saiful "acted like a lamb" and did not attempt to flee even though he had the chance to do so.

Anwar's lawyers added that Saiful's testimony was unbelievable because medical experts had said Anwar was incapable of such vigorous movement, partly because he has years-old back problems.

Saiful is "a compulsive and consummate liar," defense attorney Sankara Nair said.

Prosecution lawyers are expected to address the court Tuesday.

The prosecution's case rests mainly on Saiful's testimony and DNA evidence allegedly linking Anwar to Saiful. Anwar's lawyers say the DNA material is tainted.

Anwar was charged several months after his three-party opposition alliance wrested more than one-third of Parliament's seats in landmark elections in March 2008. Najib's National Front coalition, which has ruled since 1957, is widely expected to seek a new mandate by mid-2012.

It is the second time that Anwar, a married father of six children, has been embroiled in a sex trial.

He lost his post as deputy prime minister in 1998 after being charged with sodomizing his family's ex-driver and abusing his power to cover up his actions _ both of which he denied. He was freed in 2004 after six years of imprisonment when a court overturned the sodomy conviction.