Anwar's trial is halted by arsenic claim

Alvin Ung
Friday 10 September 1999 23:02

THE MALAYSIAN politician Anwar Ibrahim is being poisoned with arsenic by the authorities while in prison, his lawyer said yesterday at the trial of the former deputy prime minister on sodomy charges.

Karpal Singh said secret tests on Anwar's urine proved that the politician, who is already serving six years for corruption, has an alarming level of arsenic in his body. "I suspect some people in high places, in all likelihood, are responsible for his condition," Mr Singh said. "The family and Anwar Ibrahim are alarmed. He is in jeopardy of his life."

The trial was adjourned by Judge Ariffin Jaka, who ordered that Anwar, 52, be taken to hospital for tests. Later, Mr Singh showed a report said to be from an Australian pathology lab, indicating the urine sample tested had 77 times more arsenic than normal human urine.

Anwar's relatives somehow obtained a urine sample and smuggled it out last month using a false name, Mr Singh said. The lab report carried the name Subramaniam and an age of 59.

Before the hearing was adjourned indefinitely, prosecutors said there was no proof that Anwar was being poisoned in prison. Arsenic could have entered his body through food given to him by family and friends in court, the Attorney General, Mohtar Abdullah, said

Anwar flew into a rage at that, pounding the wooden railing of the dock and stamping his feet. "Fed by my wife! I was poisoned by Azizah!" he shrieked ironically, referring to his wife, who heads an opposition party that has vowed to end the government's 18-year rule.

Anwar is accused of sodom-ising his former family driver. He says the sex and corruption charges are part of a political conspiracy to end his challenge to the Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. He faces up to 20 more years in prison if convicted of sodomy.

Anwar was arrested on 20 September last year, 18 days after the Prime Minister fired him. He was beaten on the night of his arrest by the police chief of Malaysia.

When the judge asked Anwar how he felt, he said: "I am generally all right, I am not feeling any pain, but certainly I am not my usual self." Anwar said he had lost weight and hair, symptoms he connected to arsenic poisoning. His wife later said he lost 9kg (19lb) this year.

"This is attempted murder," said Azizah. "I'm very alarmed, very frightened, to learn that his life is in danger."

The Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said that he had ordered an immediate investigation. (AP)

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