August 18, 2005

Malaysia’s Anwar wins $1.2 mln in defamation suit

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Former Malaysian deputy premier
Anwar Ibrahim won a case against an old foe on Thursday when he
was awarded more than $1 million in a defamation case against
the author of a book that destroyed his career.

But the 4.5 million ringgit awarded to Anwar will probably
never reach him, with the author Khalid Jafri lying in hospital
on life support due to severe health problems.

"Of course to me, money is not the issue," Anwar told
Reuters over the telephone after the ruling. "It is a matter of

"I'm very pleased that I'm completely vindicated of all the
vile charges made against me. For the first time, the court
made a reference that there was a conspiracy against me."

Once a step away from Malaysia's highest office, Anwar was
sacked from government in 1998 after a fall-out with then Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad -- his mentor of many years and the
man who had groomed him for the top job.

He was later charged with sodomy and corruption offences,
which he said were trumped up, and spent six years in jail. He
was released last year after one of his convictions was quashed
but he remains banned from holding political office until 2009.

Khalid's book, "Fifty Reasons Why Anwar Ibrahim Cannot
Become Prime Minister," was circulated among delegates at the
1998 convention of Malaysia's ruling party, leading to Anwar's
ouster and triggering a police investigation into his private

The book, among other things, accused Anwar of fathering a
child out of wedlock. Anwar sued Khalid for defamation after
DNA tests proved the child did not belong to him.

Earlier this month, Anwar won an apology from a former
chief of police for beating him in custody in 1998 and giving
him a black eye.

Anwar, who insists Malaysia's legal system needs a revamp,
kissed his wife on the forehead after judge Hishamudin Yunus
ruled there had been a conspiracy against him.

"I'm quite concerned for the welfare of the judge," Anwar
said, referring to Hishamudin, who also presided over the case
involving the police chief and freed two of Anwar's supporters
from state detention four years ago.

"The courage he has shown is admirable."