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Wednesday, October 28, 1998 Published at 10:42 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Anwar appeal fails

Thousands demanded Mr Anwar's release on Saturday

A judge in Malaysia has thrown out an appeal by the former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, against his imprisonment.

The decision means Mr Anwar's trial can go ahead next week.

Mr Anwar's lawyers argued that he had been arrested and detained illegally, and that he could not get a fair trial because the judiciary was tainted by a high-level government conspiracy against him.

Judge Wahab Patail dismissed the habeas corpus appeal, calling it "plainly and obviously frivolous".

He said allegations of a government conspiracy against Mr Anwar were "far-reaching and scandalous". He said they were as absurd "as being told an alien spaceship has landed in Merdeka Square".

[ image: Mr Anwar appeared in court last month with a black eye]
Mr Anwar appeared in court last month with a black eye
Mr Anwar's trial is scheduled to start on 2 November. He has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges against him.

He was arrested on 20 September under the Internal Security Act (ISA) - which allows indefinite detention without trial - after rallies at which he called for the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Mr Anwar appeared in court last month with a black eye which he said had been inflicted while he was in police custody.

He has since been released from under the ISA and moved to a normal prison.

In an affidavit filed in court by his wife, Azizah Ismail, on Wednesday, Mr Anwar said his release from the ISA was a joke.

"[It] is Mahathir's gimmick, because of his fear of the people's wrath and the reaction of the international community," he said.

He said the Malaysian Government wanted to get him out of ISA before the APEC trade forum, which is due to begin in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, in two weeks.

Denouncing police violence

Earlier, Mr Anwar denounced the use of force by police to break up anti-government demonstrations at the weekend.

[ image: Amnesty says police used excessive force]
Amnesty says police used excessive force
His statement from prison said the government should not use police power "to hit and kick the people".

Mr Anwar also called on the police to refrain from "wanton beatings" of protesters. He urged his followers to campaign peacefully and again called for the prime minister to resign.

Amnesty International has criticised the police for excessive use of force and warned of a risk of further violence.

More than 240 people were detained in clashes between anti-government demonstrators and riot police.

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