3 Feb 2010

New trial begins for Anwar

6:12 am on 3 February 2010

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has appeared in court at the start of a trial on sodomy charges.

Dozens of supporters watched Mr Anwar's arrival with his wife and two daughters before the case was adjourned for the judge to consider legal submissions.

Anwar Ibrahim was the deputy prime minister in Malaysia before being suddenly dismissed in 1998. He subsequently spent six years in jail, but led the opposition to election gains in 2008.

The BBC reports he represents a major challenge to Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose coalition has held power for more than 50 years.

Mr Anwar, 62, says the charges are baseless and politically motivated. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Government officials deny there is any plot against him. The sodomy accusations have been brought by a former aide, aged 24.

On Friday, the Federal Court upheld a lower court ruling that Mr Anwar could not have access to medical evidence held by prosecutors.