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Time 75th Anniversary Celebration, 1923-1998

Malaysia's Anwar Says Police Beat Him

By K. Baranee Krishnaan

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Reuters) - Sacked cabinet minister Anwar Ibrahim Tuesday pleaded not guilty to corruption and sodomy and said Malaysian police beat him unconscious after he was arrested.

Anwar, in his first public appearance since being arrested on September 20, was indicted in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on five counts of corruption and four of sodomy.

One eye swollen, the former deputy prime minister who was sacked from the cabinet on September 2 pleaded not guilty to the nine counts.

He told the judge that on the night of his arrest he was punched until he bled, then denied medical attention for five days.

``I was asked to stand up and I was boxed very hard on the left part of the temple and the right part of the head,'' lawyer Pawanchik Marican quoted Anwar as telling the court.

``I was hit very hard also on the left part of the neck. I was then slapped very hard, left and right, until blood seeped from my nose and my lips,'' Pawanchik, speaking to reporters outside the court room, quoted Anwar as saying.

Police spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

Pawanchik said lawyers saw Anwar Tuesday for the first time since his arrest, and that he looked ``all right'' except for a black eye.

``I'm very surprised it has happened to a deputy prime minister and they do this thing to him,'' Kamar Ainiah, one of seven lawyers representing Anwar, told reporters.

Authorities said Anwar would be charged on a fifth count of sodomy Wednesday. The sodomy charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and whipping, said a lawyer who did not know the maximum punishment under the corruption statute.

Anwar denies all the charges and says he is the victim of a conspiracy to end his political career and prevent him from exposing corruption in the government.

Earlier this month, two men were sentenced to six months each in jail after saying they had been sodomized by Anwar.

Anwar later said the men had been forced into making false statements.

Before dawn Tuesday, riot police took position around the court house next to Merdeka (Freedom) Square, the focal point of anti-government demonstrations that started on the day Anwar was arrested.

At least 20 police trucks and buses encircled the square, and dozens of riot police with batons and shields stood outside the court and on neighboring streets to prevent people from gathering.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has called Anwar morally unfit, indicated his former heir-apparent would not be released on bail.

``If he is freed, he will continue to incite,'' Mahathir told a special session of parliament called to discuss regulatory bills. ``He will do anything to hide his wrongdoings.''

Anwar's lawyer Pawanchik said the former cabinet minister lay unconscious for a night after being beaten while blindfolded, and was refused medical attention for five days.

``The next morning there was a big swelling on my eye. I could not open it. It affected the visibility of my left eye,'' the lawyer quoted Anwar as saying.

``I appealed to see a doctor a few times. For five days my appeal was not entertained,'' Anwar was quoted as saying.

The lawyer said Anwar was then placed alone in a detention cell at the police station.

``I appealed to see a doctor a few times. For five days my appeal was not entertained,'' Anwar was quoted as saying.

After seven days, Anwar met a criminal investigation department officer, and two doctors came from the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, Pawanchik said.

The lawyer said Anwar, while speaking to the court, then told the sessions court judge to look at his swollen eye.

``Look at this condition,'' Anwar was quoted as telling the judge. ``After 10 days you can imagine why they refused to see me earlier.''

The lawyer said the judge ordered Anwar to be examined by a doctor while in police detention.

^REUTERS@ Reut07:20 09-29-98

(29 Sep 1998 07:20 EDT)

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