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nwar refused permission to meet brother before his death:

Date: 21 Nov 1999
Time: 22:15:31


nwar refused permission to meet brother before his death: opposition

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 (AFP) - A Malaysian opposition leader slammed authorities for refusing to let jailed former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim visit his elder brother before the brother died Saturday of lung cancer.

The opposition Alternative Front alliance announced that Mohamad Rani Ibrahim, 62, died at home in a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur after a long illness.

It earlier said authorities had turned down a request by Anwar's family for him to visit Rani "even if under heavy guard" and that a subsequent appeal was also rejected.

Lim Kit Siang, secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), expressed outrage at what he said was the refusal of the authorities to let Anwar visit his brother.

"Were the authorities so cruel and heartless because they thought Anwar was feigning his elder brother's dying hours and that the family's request to allow Anwar to have the last few moments with his dying brother was a mere ploy to allow Anwar to discuss strategy about the general election?" he said.

In a statement, Lim demanded a public apology from Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also home minister in charge of police.

"There must be a total shake-up of the prisons leadership and department to ensure that inhumanity must never be allowed to be entrenched as a principle in the running of a prisons system," he said.

"In fact, those responsible for refusing to allow Anwar a last visit with his dying brother should be hauled up for gross irresponsibility and punished."

Anwar has four brothers and a sister.

His National Justice Party (Keadilan) had earlier said doctors had given Rani "anything from five minutes to half a day left to live" and urged Malaysians to join in an appeal to let Anwar out for a last visit to him.

Anwar, sacked and detained in September 1998, was sentenced to six years' jail in April for abusing his power to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct. He is now on trial for sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

The sodomy trial was postponed indefinitely on November 15, just five days after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced a snap election.

Officials said Saturday that Anwar, in a surprise move, had decided not to try to run for election as his party may risk losing a possible seat if he is disqualified.

But they added Anwar still remained the candidate for prime minister of the Alternative Front, which comprises Keadilan, the Parti Islam SeMalaysia, the Democratic Action Party and the Malaysian People's Party.

A diplomat said Anwar could still be premier if he was pardoned and ran in a by-election later, or was made a senator.

Last changed: November 21, 1999