7 Aug 2008

Anwar pleads not guilty to sodomy charges

8:19 pm on 7 August 2008

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has pleaded not guilty to charges of sodomy.

Mr Anwar was jailed 10 years ago after being found guilty in a similar case, although the verdict was eventually overturned.

Mr Anwar, 60, denied the charge that he had sex with a 23-year-old male aide and was bailed until his next court appearance on September 10.

This will allow him to contest a by-election on August 26 in which he is the favourite.

About 100 cheering supporters shouted "long live Anwar" and "Reformasi" at the courthouse, which was surrounded by police.

Reformasi is the battle cry of his reform movement.

The opposition People's Alliance coalition said it would formally appoint Mr Anwar as leader if he won the poll.

If he is found guilty, Mr Anwar could be imprisoned for up to 20 years, effectively ending the career of a man who has long coveted the top job in Malaysia and who was only allowed back into politics in April following his release from jail in 2004.