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Wednesday, September 30, 1998 Published at 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Anwar accused of beating himself up

Anwar Ibrahim: premier says his black eye is self-inflicted

The Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has suggested that the injuries sustained by his former deputy Anwar Ibrahim - revealed in a court appearance on Tuesday - may have been self-inflicted.

BBC Correspondent Matt Frei: "International pressure increasing"
Dr Mahathir told reporters that Mr Anwar might have hurt himself to gain public sympathy.

"It's not impossible because he will get plenty of mileage if he showed he was abused by police," Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama.

But he said there would be an investigation into the allegation of police brutality, and any offending officer would be punished.

[ image: Armed police kept supporters away]
Armed police kept supporters away
Mr Anwar made a second court appearance on Wedneday, where he was faced another charge of sodomy, amid growing international concern about his treatment.

He repeatedly took off his glasses to dab the area around his left eye that is still black with blood clots.

He told a court on Tuesday that he was punched and slapped until he fell unconscious on the first night of his captivity on 20 September, when he was arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act.

Protests at his treatment

Elizabeth Wong : This is the sort of thing that happens to ISA detainees
"All Malaysians are asking how they could be safe when the former deputy prime minister could be brutally assaulted while in police custody," said Lim Kit Siang, the leader of the opposition Democratic Action party.

The US State Department has called on the Malaysian Government to investigate the case and bring to justice those responsible.

The American comments follow a statement by the human rights organisation, Amnesty International, condemning the treatment of Mr Anwar and urging Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to release him immediately.

The London-based group said it believed the charges of unnatural sex acts and corruption levelled against Mr Anwar were politically motivated and had no real basis.

The BBC Asia correspondent, Matt Frei, says that if the Malaysian prime minister had hoped to discredit his rival with salacious charges and undermine the growing reform movement by bringing him to court, that tactic may now be backfiring.

Allegations well aired

Most newspapers in Malaysia carried articles detailing Mr Anwar's account of his experience in captivity.

Mr Anwar's former speech writer and his adopted brother, recently found guilty of being sodomised by Mr Anwar and sentenced to six months in jail, have already appealed against their prison terms after retracting their confessions.

Their lawyers say their confessions were obtained under duress.

Mr Anwar now awaits a date for his formal trial, which could result in a 20-year jail sentence if he is found guilty.

Mr Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, who is a doctor, said she was shocked at her husband's appearance and described him as "a victim of police brutality".

Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Ismail: "He is not guilty, these are fabrications"
She told reporters that he had complained that as well as bruising, his vision and balance had been impaired. It was the first contact Mr Anwar had had with his family since his arrest.

The court granted Mr Anwar's request to see a family doctor.

Before his arrest Mr Anwar told supporters that he was the victim of a high-level political conspiracy. Mr Anwar was sacked by the prime minister on 2 September. Since then he has led a campaign against his former boss, who has ruled Malaysia for 17 years.

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