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Monday, October 5, 1998 Published at 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK

The case against Anwar

Mr Anwar denies the charges

By News Online's Joe Havely

As falls from grace go, few can be more spectacular - and, to many observers, more baffling - than that of Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's former Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Anwar is facing trial on charges of corruption and abuse of office.

He is also accused of one other charge of corruption and five of sexual misconduct, but it is not clear when he will face trial on these remaining charges.

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For his part Mr Anwar vigorously denies the charges calling them "petty and preposterous". He says he is the victim of a political smear campaign.

He is accused of using his office to suppress an Anti-Corruption Agency investigation into the activities of his private secretary, and of committing "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" with five different men including his speech writer, driver and adopted brother.

Mr Anwar also faces charges of seeking to interfere with the interrogation of witnesses to the alleged sodomy to protect himself from prosecution.

Shortly before his arrest two men, his speech writer and adopted brother, were convicted of allowing themselves to be sodomised by Mr Anwar.

They subsequently withdrew their confessions, saying they were extracted under duress, and requested an appeal.

It is unclear how this affects the prosecution's case, although it can hardly do them any favours.

Chosen successor

The allegations against Mr Anwar are surprising because until little more than a month ago he was widely seen as the anointed successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The charges follow more than a year of rumour and poison pen letters alleging his involvement in illegal homosexual activities, steadily undermining his position.

They culminated in the release of the book 50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister, a body-blow timed to coincide with the annual assembly of the ruling Umno party in June 1998.

In graphic detail it accused Mr Anwar of such activities as sexual impropriety with both genders, graft, witness tampering and treason.

Political dispute

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mahathir and Mr Anwar, in his role as finance minister, grew increasingly at odds over how best to pull the country out of the economic gloom overshadowing Asia.

For months Kuala Lumpur's political circles were rife with rumour and speculation that Mr Anwar would resign and he became increasingly isolated from his party.

Eventually he was sacked, beginning a campaign to oust his former mentor, Prime Minister Mahathir, the man he once called "teacher".

Now, expelled from office and party membership, and faced with serious criminal charges, he is a political outsider. But shortly before his arrest, he told an interviewer: "I have no regrets".

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