|Jul 16, 08 7:11pm|
PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim will be spending the night in police custody. However, it could be not be ascertained whether he would be held at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters or a different location.
“They are keeping him tonight. Their excuse is they need to take further statements,” said lawyer Sankara Nair.
“They are not giving him bail, I have no idea how much longer he will be detained,” he told reporters, adding that he was unsure if he would remain at the police headquarters where Anwar was undergoing questioning.
Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she feared for his safety, after the events of a decade ago when he was sacked as deputy premier, beaten up by the police chief, and jailed for six years on sodomy and corruption charges.
She railed at police for “reneging on a promise” to release him promptly.
“They told me that they would not keep him overnight,” she said. “I feel sad and disappointed that after 10 years this thing has to repeat.”
PKR deputy president Syed Husin Ali said they expected Anwar to be taken to court on Thursday morning to extend his detention.
“We expect Anwar to be produced in court to be remanded tomorrow morning and the family is now trying to determine what will happen to Anwar and his precise whereabouts for the night,” he said.
Police can detain Anwar for 24 hours after which they must apply for a court order that would allow them to remand him for up to 14 days without charge.
He could be charged under section 337C of the Penal Code for unnatural sex.
Physical examination in hospitalEarlier this evening, the police took Anwar to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for medical tests.
Anwar left the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters at 8.35pm with a convoy of 10 police vehicles and a dozen outriders.
The veteran politician, who was arrested this afternoon in connection with a sodomy report, had his statement recorded in a marathon six-hour session – from 2.30pm to 8.30pm.
Anwar arrived at the hospital’s emergency unit at about 8.50pm. Some 40 police personnel were deployed in the area.
The politician was later taken to the hospital’s royal ward but no further details were available. The police had cordoned off the area.
Earlier today, his lawyer Sankara Nair said that under the law, Anwar is not obliged to provide the police with a DNA sample.
About two hours later, Anwar emerged from the hospital accompanied by dozens of police officers.
He smiled and waved to about 50 supporters who were waiting outside the building.
The crowd shouted ‘reformasi’ as he was escorted into a car where he was taken in a police convoy back to the police headquarters.
He arrived at the police headquarters at 10.30pm.
According to Anwar’s lawyer R Sivarasa who had accompanied the opposition leader to the hospital, a basic medical check-up was performed.
He had refused to undergo a full physical examination or provide a DNA sample.
“No DNA sample was given. We did what we considered was reasonable.”
However, at about 11pm, the same convoy left the police headquarters to an undisclosed location. It is not known whether Anwar was in one of the cars.
Syed Hamid: Expect lengthy investigations
Meanwhile, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had earlier told AFP that Anwar was likely to spend the night in detention.
“I doubt Anwar will be released tonight as this is a very serious allegation and there are a lot of things to be investigated and the police must carry this out fully,” he said.
Syed Hamid dismissed Anwar’s claims that the accusations levelled by a former aide were a government conspiracy, and discounted the prospect of mass demonstrations if the opposition leader is charged with sodomy.
“There is no conspiracy as Anwar likes to point out. Every time he is detained he claims it’s a conspiracy, this is mind conditioning and we will make sure that no one is above the law.”
The new arrest baffled legal observers because it came after Anwar agreed to submit to a police interrogation over the allegations, but Syed Hamid said authorities suspected he was not planning to turn up to the meeting.
“It doesn’t matter when they moved in as they needed to have him make a statement on the investigations and he has been detained in order to carry out the investigations,” he said.
“Once the police have investigated fully, they will then decide whether they can move to the next stage of filing charges against Anwar.”
Police had verified Saiful’s info
Syed Hamid said police had to verify information given by Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the 23-year-old former aide who said Anwar sexually assaulted him at an up-market Kuala Lumpur condo.
“The police have interviewed Saiful fully and they have evidence which they now need to match with what Anwar has to say,” he said.
“The victim must not feel that he has not been given an equal opportunity under the law.”
Anwar’s downfall a decade ago triggered massive street protests that drew tens of thousands of people, but Syed Hamid said he did not expect that to happen again.
“I don’t think there will be riots in Malaysia as a result of this arrest,” he said, adding that citizens were already annoyed at the disruption caused by recent anti-government demonstrations.
July 17, 2008