Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak and his wife applied Wednesday to quash a subpoena ordering them to testify in the sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the premier’s lawyer said.
Anwar, 64, is charged with sodomising a young male aide in June 2008, a charge he says was cooked up with Najib’s involvement in a bid to cripple the opposition’s chances in coming elections.
Anwar’s accuser Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan said he met Najib before filing a police report on the sodomy accusation. The defence, which has called on Najib to testify, says this indicates the case was manufactured.
The government has denied involvement in the accusations.
Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Najib’s lawyer Salehuddin Saidin said he filed an application in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to strike down the court order for the premier and his wife Rosmah Mansor to testify.
“The subpoena is to call the witness to come to court to give evidence on behalf of the accused. So now we have filed an application to set aside this subpoena,” the lawyer told AFP, declining to elaborate.
He said the court had not set a date to hear the application.
The court had earlier ordered Najib and his wife to submit to questioning by Anwar’s lawyers as potential witnesses, and they were interviewed on August 12 but refused to talk.
The couple received the subpoena on Tuesday.
Anwar was deputy prime minister and next in line for power when he was ousted in 1998 amid a bitter falling out with then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Anwar was subsequently arrested and convicted on separate sodomy and corruption charges widely seen as politically motivated. The sodomy conviction was overturned and Anwar was freed in 2004.
He led an opposition alliance to historic gains against the long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in 2008 polls but the new sodomy accusation also emerged that year.
The defence is currently presenting its case in the long-running trial.