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Monday, October 5, 1998 Published at 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Anwar in court again

Anwar arrived at the High Court in a police van

The detained former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, has again pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption and committing illegal homosexual acts.

South-East Asia Correspondent Simon Ingram: "Case continues to excite huge public interest"
Mr Anwar, who alleges he was beaten by police while in custody, was wearing a neck brace for his second appearance at the high court in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

The judge denied Mr Anwar's application for bail saying that the defence had not proved that Mr Anwar would refrain from tampering with witnesses if released pending his trial, set to start on 2 November.

In what he said was the interests of a fair trial, Justice Augustine Paul also ordered a halt to all public comments relating to Mr Anwar's guilt or innocence.

Simon Ingram: Growing calls for political reform
Mr Anwar is being held at an undisclosed location. His wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, has accused the authorities of breaching human rights by denying her husband access to lawyers.

[ image: Wan Azizah Ismail says the police are harassing her]
Wan Azizah Ismail says the police are harassing her
Mr Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, also said she suffered "harassment and persecution" after being summoned for a third time for police questioning on Thursday.

Wan Azizah faces possible charges of sedition after expressing fears in a television interview with CNBC Asia that her husband may be injected with the HIV virus to 'prove' charges of illegal homosexual conduct.

On Sunday, an anti-government demonstration, consisting mostly of women, was dispersed outside the royal palace in Kuala Lumpur.

International concern

Meanwhile, the Indonesian President, BJ Habibie, has become the latest leader to express his dismay at the arrest of Mr Anwar.

[ image: Indonesia's President Habibie: May boycott Kuala Lumpur summit]
Indonesia's President Habibie: May boycott Kuala Lumpur summit
Mr Habibie told Thailand's The Nation newspaper that he may boycott a forthcoming regional summit in Malaysia in protest.

He said it had been wrong to arrest Mr Anwar on the basis of accusations that were not proven, and added that the Malaysian authorities should not forget how much he had contributed to the country during his years of government service.

The BBC's South East Asia correspondent, Simon Ingram, says the Anwar affair is exposing unusually public differences within the ranks of South East Asian nations, who normally do not comment on the internal affairs of their neighbours.

Several other countries, including the Philippines, Thailand, the US and Britain, have also expressed support for Mr Anwar.

Injuries 'self-inflicted'

Mr Anwar appeared in court last week with a black eye and bruising. The Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said the injuries may have been self-inflicted but a doctor who examined Mr Anwar on Tuesday disputed this.

[ image: Mr Anwar's bruises were not self-inflicted, doctors say]
Mr Anwar's bruises were not self-inflicted, doctors say
Following the results of the medical examination, the Malaysian authorities appointed a police officer to look into Mr Anwar's allegations that he was assaulted while in custody.

Mr Anwar, who led protests against Dr Mahathir's economic policies, has denied charges of corruption and sexual misconduct which he says are part of a high-level smear campaign.

Prime Minister Mahathir has recently been speaking publicly about the case, accusing Mr Anwar of plotting to overthrow him.

Meanwhile the Malaysian police have set up a special unit to monitor the Internet, after supporters of Mr Anwar used it to organise protests.

The government said police would "check every bit of information and leaflet" posted on the Internet. But Malaysia's only Internet service provider has admitted that information on the Net is "impossible to control".

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Internet Links

Suaram - Voice of the Malaysian People

Straits Times (Singapore) The Fall of Anwar

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Anwar Online

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