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Malaysian media shapes battleground in Anwar trial.

Byline: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian media photos showing "in camera" proceedings in the sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim prompted complaints of bias in the politically charged trial on Friday.

The graphic picture in Friday s edition of government-controlled Malay language Utusan Malaysia showed a 24-year-old man, who says Anwar had sex with him, gesturing toward a bed.

The same paper on Thursday used language that was struck out of court proceedings after objections by Anwar s lawyers in a headline that read "Not willing to be sodomised again," implying that Anwar had sex with the man more than once.

The judge said Utusan had not broken reporting restrictions on a Thursday visit closed to the public and media to the condominium where Anwar s accuser said he was sodomised in 2008, in a ruling that stunned Anwar and his supporters.

"We can t even get a decent judgment over a basic issue like that," Anwar told reporters after the trial adjourned. Anwar has consistently denied the charge, saying it is part of a political conspiracy against him.

All homosexual acts are illegal in mainly Muslim Malaysia and Anwar was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to nine years in jail in 2000 in a trial that drew widespread condemnation, although the conviction was overturned four years later.

Malaysian papers have lapped up lurid details from the current trial which on Friday saw Saiful s underwear paraded through the court along with intimate swabs from his body, a pair of trousers and a tube of lubricant used in anal sex.

"Yes, my Lord, that is my Levi s underwear," Saiful told the judge. "That is the underwear I wore on the day of the incident."

The sensational media coverage means the trial is also being held in the court of public opinion.

"Those in the rural areas who are influenced by the mainstream media will believe in the charge against Anwar," said Anwar supporter Kashfullah Amaluddin, 37, who was at court on Friday and who said he had also been at the first trial.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Feb 6, 2010
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