Anwar defence accuses Malaysian trial judge of lying

The judge hearing Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy trial was accused of lying Wednesday, in a blistering attack as the defence sought to disqualify him from the case.

Anwar, who faces 20 years in jail if convicted of illicit sexual relations with a young former aide, has condemned the allegations as a political conspiracy to sideline the opposition.

He has accused High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah of refusing to rein in "biased" media coverage including the publishing of a photo taken during a closed-door hearing at the apartment where the encounter allegedly took place.

"Your lordship can't demonstrate that you are impartial," defence counsel Karpal Singh said, telling the judge he was wrong not to caution the Utusan Malaysia daily which ran the picture and an earlier suggestive headline.

The photo showed Anwar's accuser, 24-year-old Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, gesturing towards a bed in the apartment. Karpal said the judge was wrong in arguing that the bed had been mentioned in open court.

"With due respect, your lordship didn't tell the truth and that translates into your lordship has lied," he said.

"Your lordship has no alernative but to step down."

Lead prosecutor Yusof Zainal Abiden hit back, saying the defence was being "insulting" and insisting that the bed had been mentioned in public hearings.

"To say your lordship has lied is a very strong word," he told the court. "Lawyers can defend their client without fear or favour but to use strong language against the judge is unacceptable."

Mohamad Zabidin ordered the case to be adjourned until February 18 to allow him time to consider the arguments over whether he should recuse himself as the presiding judge.

 

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