Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Malaysia court rejects Anwar Ibrahim evidence appeal

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim arrives at court (Dec 2009)
Anwar Ibrahim said he was "not too confident" in the legal process

A Malaysian court has rejected a bid by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to be granted access to evidence against him in a pending sodomy trial.

Mr Anwar has accused the government of interfering in the case and trying to rush it through court.

The former deputy prime minister was charged with sodomy, a criminal offence in Malaysia, in 2008.

He denies the charge and says it is politically motivated, but faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

Mr Anwar spent six years in prison following a similar accusation in the late 1990s, but was freed after an appeal.

On Friday, the Federal Court upheld a lower court's ruling that Mr Anwar could not have access to medical evidence held by prosecutors.

"The court ruled that the evidence that we were seeking did not fall within the 'necessary and desirable' category and turned down the appeal," lawyer Sankara Nair told the AFP news agency.

'Quick conviction'

Mr Anwar told AFP he was "shocked with the [government's] impunity to go on with such a case despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary".

He said he believed he could win the case if the court looks at the "facts and the law".

But he said he believed Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was "quite directly involved" in the legal process, which made him "not too confident of the system".

Mr Anwar said the court "seems they want to rush" his trial and that their "political masters want a quick conviction".

The trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, but Mr Sankara said he would ask for it to be postponed while an appeal seeking to have the case thrown out completely went through another court .

Mr Anwar was arrested by armed police in a dramatic raid in August 2008, after a 23-year-old man who used to work in his office said he had sex with him.

Mr Anwar says his accuser is lying and the evidence has been fabricated.

He claims that the charge is part of a government conspiracy to undermine his opposition alliance, following its big gains in the March 2008 elections.

Government officials deny any plot against him.

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