Malaysia Anwar fights sodomy claim with doctor report
(Adds government comment on medical report)
By Jalil Hamid
KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 (Reuters) - Malaysian opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim produced a report by a private doctor on Tuesday that he said showed his accuser had not been sodomised, as he battles a criminal case in his drive to unseat the government.
The former deputy premier turned de facto opposition leader is facing criminal investigations that he had homosexual sex with a former aide last month, in what he says is a trumped-up allegation aimed at scuttling the opposition's rise to power.
A copy of a report, said to be by the doctor who examined the alleged victim the same day he filed a police report against Anwar, was earlier published by a prominent blogger.
Anwar said the medical findings showed "the allegations levelled against me are baseless and politically motivated, and that the complainant is an outright liar working hand in glove with those in power to assassinate my character".
"This report makes a mockery of the so-called impartial police investigation, and clearly shows the dubious and persistent attempts to incriminate me by whatever means employable," Anwar told reporters.
GOVERNMENT REJECTS REPORT
But the Health Ministry, in an immediate rebuff to Anwar, said it would only stand by a medical report signed by a government doctor, not a private one. The contents will not be disclosed, it added.
"No one should speculate or draw conclusions or make assumptions as to the result of the medical examination," the online edition of The Star newspaper on Tuesday quoted Director-General of Health Ismail Merican as saying.
Ismail said the ministry would ask the private hospital to verify the report and explain how it had been made public.
Sodomy is a crime punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment in mostly Muslim Malaysia.
Anwar said the doctor who produced the report has gone on leave, citing hospital authorities. Neither the doctor nor his hospital have confirmed that the report was genuine.
Anwar said he was worried about the safety of the doctor, whom police said had not been arrested.
"Reports that he and his family may be in danger must not be taken lightly, given earlier instances when key witnesses in high-profile cases in Malaysia have been threatened, coerced or gone missing."
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar told Reuters on Monday the authorities should finish investigations into Anwar as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary rumours.
The Anwar political melodrama and other scandals containing salacious details of sex, murder and cover-ups involving the government and opposition have wearied investors and sullied the image of one of East Asia's fast-growing emerging economies.
The authorities have not pressed charges against Anwar, but some analysts think the problem could turn an already loose opposition alliance into a rudderless ship.
"It has impacted him as it takes much of his energy... fighting off this sodomy charge," said Lee Hock Guan, senior fellow with Singapore's Institute of South East Asian Studies.
The opposition alliance needs just 30 more seats to win a simple majority and form the government.
Anwar's People's Justice Party had earlier said he was making plans to run for parliament in either Kulim Bandar Baharu in northern Kedah state or Bandar Tun Razak in the capital.
The Kulim seat was won by a member of Anwar's party in the March election but the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party wants the court to disqualify him on the grounds that he did not submit his account of expenditure after the last poll in 2004, People's Justice Party spokesman Tian Chua said. The court will hear the case on Aug 19.
Anwar was barred from running for public office until this April because of a conviction for corruption. He was sacked by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 and jailed on what he says were fabricated charges of corruption and sodomy.
A court quashed the sodomy charges and freed Anwar from jail in 2004, soon after he finished serving the corruption sentence. (Additional reporting by Soo Ai Peng; Writing by Liau Y-Sing; Editing by Bill Tarrant)
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