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Malaysia drops sex assault probe on PM-in-waiting Anwar

Agence France-Presse . Kuala Lumpur | Published: 02:07, Jan 15,2020

 
 

Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysia’s leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim will not face charges over claims he sexually assaulted a male former aide, prosecutors said Tuesday, the latest such scandal to tarnish the veteran politician’s career.

Muhammed Yusoff Rawther last month accused Anwar of trying to force him to have sex and filed a police complaint, but officials said there was not enough evidence to make a criminal case.

Anwar, seen as the likely successor to prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, spent almost a decade in jail after being convicted of sodomising a young male aide, allegations that supporters say were aimed at ruining his political career.

Sex between men remains illegal under colonial-era laws in the Muslim-majority country.

Anwar was released from prison and pardoned in 2018 after his alliance stormed to a shock victory against a corruption-plagued coalition that had ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1957.

But political tensions have escalated sharply, with Anwar’s nemesis-turned-ally Mahathir refusing to say when he will hand over power, and vicious infighting erupting in his People’s Justice Party.

After completing investigations, the attorney-general’s office said ‘insufficient evidence’ and ‘contradictions of material facts’ meant they would not proceed with a prosecution.

‘We agree with the recommendation of (the police) that the case be closed,’ said solicitor-general Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek in a statement.

Neither Anwar — who denied the allegations — nor Yusoff were named in the statement but it was widely reported to refer to the case.

Anwar was first thrown in jail in the 1990s after being sacked from his position in government by Mahathir, who was in his first stint as premier at the time, and their stormy relationship has loomed over Malaysian politics ever since.

In 2015, he was jailed for a second time on sodomy charges and only released after last year’s elections.

Mahathir and Anwar reconciled ahead of the polls in a bid to oust the scandal-mired Barisan Nasional coalition of then premier Najib Razak.

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