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Malaysian opposition leader freed on bail in sodomy case, accuses police of personal vendetta
Malaysia Anwar XVT1 5140305
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim gestures during a press conference at his house, Thursday, July 17, 2008, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Anwar says police have no case against him to prove that he sodomized a young male aide. - photo by Associated Press
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Thursday that police arrested him for alleged sodomy because of a personal vendetta among the top brass, and insisted they have no case against him.
    ‘‘I don’t deserve this. No Malaysian deserves this. Why treat me as a major criminal and a public enemy?’’ Anwar told reporters after being freed on $47,000 bail. ‘‘Mind you they have no case against me.’’
    Anwar was arrested Wednesday for questioning over allegations that he sodomized a 23-year-old male aide — the second time in a decade that such an accusation has threatened his political career. He was released Thursday after more than eight hours of interrogation.
    Just before his arrest, Anwar made a complaint claiming that the Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan had fabricated evidence against him in his 1998 sodomy conviction.
    ‘‘I take to task the IGP for this abuse of police power against me,’’ Anwar said. ‘‘The nature of my unwarranted arrest, my overnight incarceration ... (was) an act of personal vengeance against me in retaliation to the report I launched against him.’’
    Anwar has denied the latest accusation as a ‘‘fabrication’’ and a ‘‘malicious’’ attack, but acknowledged it has slowed his bid to recruit defectors from the ruling coalition and seize power by mid-September.
    The allegation by the male aide, who once worked in Anwar’s office as a volunteer, has further muddied Malaysia’s politics, which have been in a chaos since the March general elections handed serious losses to the ruling National Front coalition.
    Anwar’s three-party People’s Alliance coalition made spectacular gains in the polls, winning 82 seats in the 222-member Parliament, and is now 30 seats short of a majority.
    Asked if he can still bring down the government in September as promised, Anwar said, ‘‘We will come to that. I am just out of lockup,’’ a tacit acknowledgment that his campaign has suffered because of the sodomy case.
    Anwar remains a suspect in the case even though he has not been formally charged. He has been told to report to police on Aug. 18.
    Deputy Inspector General of Police Ismail Omar told reporters that Anwar’s arrest was based on a ‘‘credible report’’ of a crime having been committed.
    ‘‘We believe the arrest is reasonable. It would not be just for fun,’’ he said. ‘‘We will work to find evidence to strengthen this case.’’
    Sodomy, even between consenting adults, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison in Malaysia.
    Anwar said his interrogators were polite, but that they forced him to sleep ‘‘on a cold cement floor,’’ which aggravated his back injury. That injury reportedly dates back to his previous sodomy case in 1998 when he was beaten up in custody by then chief of national police, Abdul Rahim Noor.
    Abdul Rahim was convicted of assault in that case, sentenced to 60 days in prison and forced to resign. He later apologized to Anwar.
    Anwar predicted that the new investigation would be biased, saying the ‘‘key players’’ in law enforcement today — including the inspector general and Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail — were the ones who fabricated evidence against him in his previous sodomy trial.
    His previous ordeal started after he was fired as deputy prime minister. He was accused of sodomizing his family driver and was subsequently convicted and jailed in what he says was a conspiracy by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to win a power struggle.
    Malaysia’s Supreme Court later overturned the conviction, but by then Anwar had served six years in prison on a related abuse of power charge. He was freed in 2004 and revived his political career as an opposition leader.
    Anwar has refused to give DNA samples, saying it could be planted on his accuser, who is living under police protection, to fabricate evidence. He said he has been denied access to the aide’s written complaint, and expressed fears that police may doctor it to create a ‘‘perfect’’ report against him.
    Associated Press writers Sean Yoong, Eileen Ng and Vijay Joshi contributed to this report.

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