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Sodomy charges against Anwar dropped

Malaysia Anwar
Saturday's hearing was held at a makeshift court because Anwar could not travel  

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Anwar appeal

Makeshift court

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has greeted a decision by Malaysian government prosecutors to drop five charges against him with mixed feelings.

Government prosecutors said Saturday they would drop four sodomy charges and one corruption charge against Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's disgraced former deputy.

Anwar's lawyer Christopher Fernando told CNN that both he and his client had been looking forward to "showing the world that he (Anwar) was a victim of fabricated charges."

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But the move does not reduce the 15 years that Anwar is currently serving for another count of sodomy, and abuse of power.

Fernando said he was "not surprised" and had a "faint suspicion" that the prosecution's move was coming, even as the government's lawyers declined to explain their decision to drop the charges.

"The evidence (against Anwar) was bad," he said. "Most of the alleged victims had retracted their confessions in their sworn statements, and they alleged they were tortured and brutalized into confessing that Anwar had sodomized them."

Had the trial gone forward, Fernando said they would have presented a 56-page statement from one of Anwar's alleged sodomy victims, "detailing how he was tortured and brutalized into making these allegations."

Anwar appeal

"He (the victim) is still very annoyed, he's still very sore, he's not gotten over the trauma of the way he was incarcerated and imprisoned," Fernando said.

"All this would have come to light, the whole nation, the world, would have been utterly shocked at these things can happen in this day and age."

Fernando believes today's decision to drop the five charges could boost Anwar's chances of overturning is two earlier convictions.

"Quite obviously the nature of evidence would be more or less the same," he said.

"The five charges would have obviously exposed the fact that the evidence was procured by force, and it lends credence to the fact that these were trumped up charges, meant to destroy Anwar's career," he said.

An appeal against Anwar's conviction of abuse of power is pending in Malaysia's federal court, while an earlier sodomy conviction will be taken up by the Court of Appeal.

Makeshift court

Saturday's court proceedings were held at the prison where Anwar is currently serving his sentence, because back pains had prevented him from traveling to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Fernando said that a government doctor had certified that Anwar was not fit to travel, since it would aggravate his condition.

His lawyer also admitted the former deputy prime minister had not said much about his health problems, other than that he had refused to be treated by local Malaysian doctors.

"He's now forced to wait for his appeals to come through, and he's sitting it out before deciding on his next option," Fernando said.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Anwar given ultimatum over surgery
April 26, 2001
Anwar told to pay PM legal costs
April 18, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Malaysia Prime Minister's Office
Free Anwar Campaign

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