Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Monday, 10 May 2010 11:36 UK

Anwar's sodomy trial resumes in Malaysia

Anwar Ibrahim and his wife at court in Kuala Lumpur (10 May 2010)
Mr Anwar alleges there is a political conspiracy against him

The trial of the Malaysian opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, on charges of sodomy, has resumed after a long delay.

Last week, Mr Anwar failed in his final attempt to have the charge dropped - he says it is politically motivated.

His legal team is cross-examining his accuser, an aide who says that Mr Anwar had illegal sex with him in 2008.

The opposition made big gains in elections that year and Mr Anwar has accused the governing Barisan Nasional coalition of fabricating the charge.

The BBC's Jennifer Pak, at the courtroom, said the defence had asked again for a list of the witnesses who would be called to support the government case.

But the judge again refused to allow the list to be shared, saying this was in line with an earlier federal court decision.

It is one of the issues that has led Mr Anwar's legal team to accuse the judge of bias.

Another issue has been an alleged meeting between Mr Anwar's accuser, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, and Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In court on Monday, Mr Saiful testified to having met Mr Najib days before he made his allegations, saying he did so to discuss his "dilemma".

Mr Najib has previously acknowledged meeting Mr Saiful, but has denied any involvement in the case.

Mr Anwar said the meeting was proof of "the issue of conspiracy by Najib and higher-ups in the government" and that the prime minister should be called as a witness.

"It will be a futile trial if he uses his influence in court not to appear personally," he told reporters outside the court.

Judge denial

Mr Anwar's lawyer, Sankara Nair, said that the prosecution's refusal to release information such as its witness list, video footage and key documents on forensic and DNA evidence would make it very hard for his client to clear his name.

Another lawyer, Karpal Singh, said he had never before been denied access to a witness list.

"You always supply the list. In fact, the court is supplied the list together with the defence. What is there to hide?" he said.

1993 to 1998 - Deputy Prime Minister, under Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad
1999 - Jailed for abuse of power, sparking huge street protests
2000 - Found guilty of sodomy with his wife's driver
2004 - Supreme Court overturns the sodomy conviction, freeing him from jail. He quickly emerges as the de facto opposition leader
March 2008 - ruling coalition narrowly wins general election, but with its worst results in 50 years. The opposition makes unprecedented gains
Aug 2008 - Anwar charged with sodomy for a second time, but despite this is soon voted in as an MP
Feb 2009 - Second trial for sodomy starts

Mr Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, was sacked and imprisoned in 1998 on separate sex and corruption counts. He was freed in 2004.

His defence had earlier argued that Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah was too biased to give their client a fair trial but the judge has refused to stand down.

"I don't see any reason to recuse myself from this case. If I do this I will be running away from my duty as a judge," he said of the demand to step back from the case.

Mr Anwar says he is only on trial for political reasons, and in an interview with BBC News before the trial, he referred to the allegations as a "nasty conspiracy".

Homosexual acts are illegal in Malaysia and Mr Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The charismatic opposition leader - who was deputy prime minister until his sudden sacking in 1998 - served six years after an earlier conviction for sodomy, which was subsequently overturned on appeal.

After his release, he led the opposition to election gains in 2008.

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South China Morning Post Anwar loses new bid to derail trial - 38 mins ago
Reuters India Malaysia's Anwar wants sodomy accuser disqualified - 20 hrs ago
IOL Sodomy trial tainted with lies: Anwar lawyers - 21 hrs ago
Bangkok Post Malaysia's Anwar aims to undermine sodomy claims - 23 hrs ago
The News International Anwar's accuser grilled over meeting with Malaysian PM - 29 hrs ago

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