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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 03:15 GMT 04:15 UK
Anwar makes bail appeal

By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

The former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, has appeared in court seeking bail pending his appeal against a conviction for sodomy.

Anwar's lawyers say they want him freed so he can seek medical treatment in Germany for a back injury.

The man who was once the second most powerful in Malaysia was brought to court in an armed convoy.

Anwar Ibrahim
Anwar has served four years in jail
But Anwar Ibrahim, in a wheelchair and neck brace, didn't look like a man about to run away.

His lawyers say that he can't get proper treatment in Malaysia for spinal injuries Mr Anwar says were inflicted after his arrest in 1998 when he was blindfolded and beaten by the country's then police chief.

Mr Anwar is not optimistic that he'll be freed.

That, he believes, will take a political decision at the highest level. It won't be decided by the judges.

The rumour mill here suggests the official attitude towards him may be softening but the chances of him being released soon seem slim.

Malaysia's Prime Minister of 22 years, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, retires in October and many in government will not want to see anything disrupt a smooth handover.

Many still bear Mr Anwar enough ill-will for his challenge to Dr Mahathir five years ago that they would happily see him serve the remaining six years of his sentence for sodomy.

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