Asia

Defence close Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trial

Anwar Ibrahim, pictured on 12 December 2010
Image caption Mr Anwar says the the trial is a political conspiracy

Defence lawyers representing Malaysia's main opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim have made their closing arguments at his sodomy trial in Kuala Lumpur.

They urged the country's High Court to acquit Mr Anwar of all charges, claiming that the man who accused him is a "compulsive and consummate liar".

Prosecution lawyers are expected to address the court on Tuesday.

Supporters of Mr Anwar say the case is politically motivated ahead of national elections expected next year.

But the government has denied any involvement with the charges or a conspiracy.

Mr Anwar is accused of sodomising a former political aide, Saiful Azlam, in June 2008.

The allegation surfaced just months after Mr Anwar led the opposition to win an unprecedented number of seats in the March 2008 elections, says the BBC's Jennifer Pak in Kuala Lumpur.

Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia, even among consenting adults. Mr Anwar faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

'Character assassination'

Mr Anwar was imprisoned on separate sex and corruption charges in 1998, and freed on appeal in 2004.

In August Mr Anwar said that the latest allegations against him were "a vile and desperate attempt at character assassination" orchestrated by his political enemies.

Defence lawyer Sankara Nair told the AFP news agency that a verdict could be expected within a month. A guilty verdict would effectively prevent Mr Anwar from standing in the next polls, he said.

"The evidence adduced by the defence has demolished all semblance of truth in the evidence [of Mr Anwar's accuser]," Karpal Singh, another defence lawyer, told the court.

But our correspondent says that Mr Anwar's lawyers believe they have a tough case to prove.

The prosecution's case rests mainly on his accuser's testimony and DNA evidence allegedly linking Mr Anwar to him. Mr Anwar's lawyers say the DNA material is tainted.

But the judge has already said in court that they found Mr Anwar's accuser and key DNA evidence gathered against him to be "credible" and "reliable".

Malaysia's governing National Front coalition, which has ruled the country since 1957, is widely expected to seek a new mandate by mid-2012.

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