Malaysia’s Anwar returns to prison


KUALA LUMPUR, Reuters

Former Malaysian finance minister Anwar Ibrahim returned to prison on Thursday after leaving the hospital where he has been treated for months for a slipped disc.

Anwar is serving a 15-year sentence for corruption and sodomy, charges he denies. The United States refers to him as a political prisoner.

According to his lawyer Sankara Nair, Anwar is expected in court on Saturday to hear whether he will face further trials.

Wheelchair-bound and wearing a neck brace, Anwar was accompanied to an ambulance at Kuala Lumpur Hospital by his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, other family members, about 50 supporters, police and prison officers, a witness said.

Anwar had been at Kuala Lumpur Hospital since late November. He had refused to undergo surgery there for his slipped disc while insisting instead on being sent to Germany for treatment.

However, the government refused to let Anwar travel abroad, giving him the option to either undergo surgery at Kuala Lumpur Hospital or return to prison for conservative treatment, meaning physiotherapy and painkillers.

“He’s still hoping that they’ll allow him to have the treatment he wants,” his wife Wan Azizah told Reuters.

Anwar is to appear before the capital’s High Court on Saturday for a decision on whether he will face four more counts of sodomy and one of corruption.

Once prime-minister-in-waiting, Anwar was sacked in 1998 and charged with sex and graft offenses which he says were concocted after he fell out with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir has denied any plot against Anwar, calling him immoral and unfit to rule.