'I Still Believe in the Wisdom of Some Judges'

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IN HIS first interview since his arrest and beating by police, the detained opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, accused Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's Prime Minister, of "dictatorial" behaviour and urged his countrymen to carry forward his movement of political reform.

In a written reply to questions passed on to Mr Anwar by The Independent during his court appearance in a suburb near the capital Kuala Lumpur, the former deputy prime minister suggested that his chances of a fair trial had been jeopardised. He has been charged with 10 counts of corruption and sodomy, punishable with up to 20 years in prison.

The US State Department has said that it is "deeply concerned" over Mr Anwar's ill treatment, which came to light on Tuesday when he was finally produced in court after 10 days of incarceration.

Dr Mahathir suggested that Mr Anwar's injuries might have been self-inflicted. "According to various people, this is not something which is impossible because he will get a lot of mileage if he could show he was tortured by the police," Dr Mahathir said. However, a doctor who examined him concluded that he had been assaulted.

Q How do you feel?

A Great, good form, encouraged by gen[eral] support for reform although my health affected [sic] by severe beating esp[ecially] spondylosis problem [chronic neck complaint from which Anwar suffers] - not surprised by new series of fabrications invented after expulsion.

Attempt of Dr M[ahathir] to digress from the major issue of corruption and abuse of power and desperate attempt to cling to power although gen[eral] populace have rejected him.

Q Do you have a message?

A M'[alay]sians should be made aware of the deterioration of their fundamental liberties and the dictatorial acts of Dr M and I continue to appeal that they have their resolve and resilience and continue to press for reform and reject corrupt leaders.

Q Do you think you will receive a fair trial?

A I hope to get a fair trial. I am aware of previous political instructions to the judiciary but I still trust in the wisdom of some credible judges.

Q Do you fear any further mistreatment?

A They have assured me but now after going through the worst I don't know what to expect.