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Malaysian leader in sodomy trial slams law

By SEAN YOONG Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- With the verdict in his sodomy trial days away, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday decried the laws he's charged with breaking, calling them archaic rules that can be abused to promote intolerance, invade people's privacy and punish them too harshly.

The remarks place Anwar, who denies the charges that he sodomized a young male former aide, alone among senior Malaysian politicians. Government and opposition leaders alike in this Muslim-majority nation usually avoid making statements that could be perceived as a nod to gay rights, partly because of discomfort among religious conservatives.

Sodomy in Malaysia is punishable by 20 years in prison and whipping with a rattan cane. The 64-year-old Anwar said he is bracing for the possibility of a long prison sentence when the Kuala Lumpur High Court delivers a decision Monday. He will not face the whipping penalty because of his age.

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