Malaysia has no case against Anwar over sex assault claims

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has denied the accusation, describing it as "politics at its worst".
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has denied the accusation, describing it as "politics at its worst".

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Solicitor-General yesterday ruled out new charges against Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim over allegations that he had sexually assaulted a former male aide, saying there was not enough evidence to proceed.

Mr Muhammed Yusoff Rawthe, 26, accused the 72-year-old former deputy premier last month of trying to force him to have sex in September 2018. Datuk Seri Anwar denied the accusation, describing it as "politics at its worst".

Solicitor-General Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek said the investigation would be closed.

"Upon careful evaluation of all the evidence gathered in the investigation papers submitted by the (police), we found contradictions of material facts which could not support the prosecution of any person," she said in a statement.

Datuk Engku Nor Faizah also said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

The Solicitor-General's statement did not name Mr Anwar or the accuser, but referred to allegations against a "political personality" early last December.

Mr Anwar and Mr Muhammed Yusoff's lawyers did not have immediate comments.

Mr Anwar had spent nearly a decade in jail on two separate counts of sodomy and for corruption, charges that he and his supporters maintain were aimed at ending his political career. He was first jailed in 1999.

Same-sex acts are illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and carry penalties of up to 20 years in jail.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 94, has promised to hand over power to Mr Anwar despite the allegations.

Mr Anwar was first jailed during Tun Dr Mahathir's first 1981-2003 tenure as premier. The pair then joined forces to lead the opposition to an unexpected election victory in May 2018.

Last week, Malaysia's Attorney-General declined to prosecute anyone linked to a series of leaked videos purportedly showing a senior Cabinet minister having sex with a man. The minister, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, had denied links to the videos, saying they were a plot to end his political career.

Mr Azmin has been regarded as a possible challenger for the premiership promised to Mr Anwar.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysia has no case against Anwar over sex assault claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe