Malaysia drops sex assault probe of PM-in-waiting Anwar

Anwar Ibrahim was first thrown in jail in the 1990s after being sacked from his position in government by Mahathir Mohamad. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Malaysia drops sex assault probe of PM-in-waiting Anwar

  • Anwar Ibrahim was first thrown in jail in the 1990s after being sacked from his position in government by Mahathir Mohamad

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim will not face charges over claims he sexually assaulted a male former aide, prosecutors said Tuesday, the latest such scandal to tarnish the veteran politician’s career.
Muhammed Yusoff Rawther last month accused Anwar of trying to force him to have sex and filed a police complaint, but officials said there was not enough evidence to make a criminal case.
Anwar, seen as the likely successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, spent almost a decade in jail after being convicted of sodomizing a young male aide, allegations that supporters say were aimed at ruining his political career.
Sex between men remains illegal under colonial-era laws in the Muslim-majority country.
Anwar was released from prison and pardoned in 2018 after his alliance stormed to a shock victory against a corruption-plagued coalition that had ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1957.
But political tensions have escalated sharply, with Anwar’s nemesis-turned-ally Mahathir refusing to say when he will hand over power, and vicious infighting erupting in his People’s Justice Party (PKR).
After completing investigations, the attorney-general’s office said “insufficient evidence” and “contradictions of material facts” meant they would not proceed with a prosecution.
“We agree with the recommendation of (the police) that the case be closed,” said solicitor-general Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek in a statement.
Neither Anwar — who denied the allegations — nor Yusoff were named in the statement but it was widely reported to refer to the case.
Anwar was first thrown in jail in the 1990s after being sacked from his position in government by Mahathir, who was in his first stint as premier at the time, and their stormy relationship has loomed over Malaysian politics ever since.
In 2015, he was jailed for a second time on sodomy charges and only released after last year’s elections.
Mahathir and Anwar reconciled ahead of the polls in a bid to oust the scandal-mired Barisan Nasional coalition of then premier Najib Razak.


Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

Updated 20 January 2020

Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister said returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash
  • The plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran

KIEV: Ukraine will press Iran to hand over the black boxes from the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane at a meeting with a visiting Iranian delegation on Monday, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters.
Ukraine would convey the message to visiting Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami, that returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash, Prystaiko said.
“His main task is to apologize and acknowledge what happened. We hope that we can go a little further than just political discussions and discuss practical problems. Among them in particular is the return of the black boxes,” Prystaiko said.
Iran had said on Sunday it was trying to analyze the black boxes from the airliner its military shot down this month, denying an earlier report it would hand them to Ukraine. All 176 aboard the flight died.
“At first they stated that they were handing them over, then the same person stated that they were not handing them over. This created some misunderstanding in Ukraine and we were starting to be asked: are they being handed over or not?“
Many of those killed had were Iranians with dual citizenship, but Iran does not recognize dual nationality and on Monday said it would treat the victims as Iranian nationals.
Canada, which had 57 citizens on the flight, said there were still no firm plans for downloading the recorders. Ottawa and other capitals have called for the black boxes to be sent abroad.
The Jan. 8 plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long-running dispute with the United States over its nuclear program and its influence in the region that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.
The Iranian military has said it downed Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 in error in the aftermath of tit-for-tat strikes by the United States and Iran. But authorities delayed admitting this, prompting days of protests on Iran’s streets.
Ukraine held a ceremony at Kiev’s Boryspil airport on Sunday as the bodies of 11 citizens, including nine crew, were returned to Ukraine.