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Date: 14 Dec 1999
Date for resumption of Anwar's sodomy trial to be set Saturday
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (AFP) - A Malaysian high court will Saturday fix a date for the resumption of the sodomy trial of ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, a defence lawyer said. The trial was postponed indefinitely on November 15 just five days after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced a snap poll, which was held November 29.
Court officials said at the time that Judge Arifin Jaka, who was unwell with back pain, had been advised by his doctor to rest for at least two weeks.
The high court has issued a notice to defence lawyers and the prosecution to meet Arifin Saturday to discuss when the hearing should resume, lawyer Gobind Singh Deo told AFP.
Anwar said last month he deeply regretted the postponement of his trial, in which he had been giving evidence alleging ministerial corruption. He said the move would give the "wrong impression to the people on the integrity and independence of the judiciary."
Anwar's wife Wan Azizah, who heads the National Justice Party, said at the time the postponement might have been ordered to halt contacts in court with her husband and to reduce his influence ahead of the election.
The government says the courts operate independently of it. It denies allegations of graft.
Anwar, sacked and detained in September 1998, was jailed for six years in April for abusing his official position to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct. Sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years.
He says the charges against him stem from a top-level political conspiracy.
Mahathir had been subpoenaed to give evidence in the trial at a date to be fixed.
Anwar was the candidate for prime minister of the opposition Alternative Front alliance, which includes the National Justice Party and three others.