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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Malaysia's Anwar drops bid to disqualify sodomy trial judge

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - – Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has withdrawn a bid to disqualify the judge hearing his sodomy trial, whom he had accused of bias, Anwar's lawyer said Tuesday.
Malaysia's Anwar drops bid to disqualify sodomy trial judge
"We do not wish to prolong or delay the trial," his counsel Sankara Nair told AFP. "Anwar has said that given the state of the judiciary, it doesn't matter which judge hears the case."
Anwar, who was sacked as deputy premier and convicted on similar charges a decade ago, faces 20 years in prison if convicted of illicit sexual relations with a young man who worked in his office.
The trial has been delayed for months as his lawyers mounted a series of failed legal manoeuvres, including bids to strike out the case and to obtain access to prosecution evidence including closed-circuit television footage.
Anwar, who says the allegations are a conspiracy to end his political career, had accused the judge of failing to rein in unfair media coverage of the trial.
Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah last month rejected the defence's attempt to have him disqualified, and an appeal over that decision was to have been heard on Friday.
Sankara said the judge was expected to set a date for the trial to be resumed on March 25.
But he said that when the trial -- which had been due to begin last July -- finally gets under way there will continue to be lengthy delays as the defence applies for access to evidence.
Anwar was sacked in 1998 and convicted on sodomy and corruption charges but was released in 2004 after the sexual misconduct count was overturned, allowing him to make a comeback to politics as the leader of a reinvigorated opposition.


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