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Page last updated at 03:43 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 04:43 UK

Anwar Malaysia sodomy trial delay

Mr Ibrahim and his wife arrive at court (8 July)
Mr Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah, has stood by him throughout the past year

The trial of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges has been delayed after his main defence lawyer fell ill.

Mr Anwar is accused of having sex with a male aide, the second time he has faced the accusation.

He spent six years in jail after a trial in the late 1990s.

He has denied the claim, calling it a lie intended to destroy his political career. The 61-year-old has told the BBC he is not expecting a fair hearing.

Opinion polls say few Malaysians believe the latest charges.

"You are not talking about law or facts," Mr Anwar said.

"We are just talking about the abuse of process, the abuse of the system, just to defeat and incarcerate your political opponent."

Deja vu

Almost exactly one year ago, Mr Anwar was arrested by armed police in a dramatic raid. He was questioned for 24 hours, then charged with sodomy.

A 23-year-old who used to work in his office said Mr Anwar, Malaysia's opposition leader, had sex with him at an upmarket apartment on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Anwar says his accuser is lying and the evidence has been fabricated. He points the finger at the government.

His arrest came just a few months after he led the opposition to a very strong showing at a general election.

The events echoed those of 10 years ago. Then Mr Anwar was jailed for sodomy, but he was freed six years later after an appeal.

His conviction followed his sacking as deputy prime minister.

Malaysia's new prime minister, Najib Razak, also has much riding on this trial.

In the current climate, a guilty verdict could see him face renewed accusations of political persecution, says the BBC's Robin Brant, in Kuala Lumpur.

However, a not guilty verdict would strengthen the man he is desperate to keep out of power, he adds.



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