KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who faces trial on sodomy charges, on Wednesday fought to prevent the government from moving the case to the High Court.
Anwar has rejected the allegations levelled by a 23-year-old former aide -- the same charge that saw him jailed a decade ago -- as politically motivated and an attempt to derail his plan to topple the ruling coalition.
At a Sessions Court hearing, defence lawyers opposed an application to transfer the case filed by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, who Anwar is suing in connection with his original trial on sodomy and corruption charges.
"For Gani to sign the order is ridiculous, he's an interested party and it is an ambush," Anwar told reporters after the hearing.
In a win for the defence, the Sessions Court judge made the unusual decision of setting a September 24 hearing for the opposition to present its case against the transfer to the High Court.
Instructions from the Attorney-General are not usually disputed, and the prosecution objected to the timing of the hearing, which will take place after the September 16 date by which Anwar is aiming to seize power.
"Two weeks is too long a time. This is a public interest case," said government lawyer Yusof Zainal Abidin.
Anwar's counsel Sulaiman Abdullah accused the government of using delaying tactics, and said there was no need to transfer the case as sodomy trials are usually held in the Sessions Court.
"It is going to be a waste of time if they transfer to the High Court, because they have to start the whole process again, and explain to the new judge what it's all about."
"This is selective justice. People that they don't like go to the High Court," he said.
Security at the court complex in Kuala Lumpur was extremely tight, with 600 police and a water cannon at the ready. The riot squad, armed with tear gas launchers and batons, were in full force.
Anwar said he was "very much" on track to carry out his plan to oust the government by September 16, by securing the support of at least 30 defectors from the ruling coalition.
"We will comment on that issue in the next one or two days" he said.
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