Anwar Ibrahim arrested on sodomy charge
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was arrested yesterday over allegations that he sodomised a male aide, police said.
Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she feared for his safety, after the events of a decade ago when he was sacked as deputy premier, beaten up by the police chief, and jailed for six years on sodomy and corruption charges.
“My concern is for my husband's safety and we want access to see him," said Wan Azizah, a parliamentarian whose Keadilan party leads a three-member opposition alliance.
"I feel apprehensive because my husband is 10 years down the road, he is not that well, he has a bad back, he's had surgery and from a brief conversation, he said they (police) were not gentle," she said.
Earlier yesterday Anwar dismissed the accusations as a conspiracy to prevent him from seizing power, and said it was a re-run of past events when he was slapped with charges widely seen as politically motivated.
"There's no basis for this whole fabrication and malicious attacks. It is just a repeat of the 1998 script. You can see the pattern," he told reporters. "I will challenge them on every ground."
His lawyer Sankara Nair said he was with the opposition leader in a vehicle approaching his home when a team of special forces police surrounded the car.
"The manner in which they surrounded our vehicle, it put a lot of fear and intimidation into us," he said, criticising authorities for pouncing just an hour before Anwar was due to appear at police headquarters for questioning.
Deputy national police chief Ismail Omar confirmed Anwar had been arrested, saying he was a suspect in the sodomy case and would undergo a medical examination.
It was not clear why Anwar was taken into custody even though he had agreed to be questioned over assault allegations levelled by Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old who was a volunteer in his office.
Sodomy, even between consenting adults, is illegal in predominantly Muslim Malaysia and carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.
Anwar Ibrahim has been taken to hospital after his arrest and is believed to be undergoing a medical examination, his party said.
"We think that he's being taken for a medical examination but we're not sure," said Tian Chua, information chief for Anwar's Keadilan party which leads a three-member opposition alliance.
"I don't think this is necessary. If you need a DNA swab you can do it up there (in police headquarters), you don't need to take a man to hospital for a DNA swab," he told reporters. "This is a big game being played out."