Jan. 9 - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is found not guilty after a two-year sex crime trial. Paul Chapman reports.
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim arrived at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to learn he was cleared of sodomy charges. About two thousand of his supporters gathered outside the building for the surprising verdict at the end of a two-year trial. Anwar has long been saying the trial was a government plot to stop him taking power at the next election. SOUNDBITE: Anwar Ibrahim, opposition leader, saying (English): "We must focus on the next general elections because we want a reform agenda, we want an independent judiciary with no perception of worry or concern, a free media, rid the country of endemic corruption." The judge said Anwar was being acquitted because of fears DNA samples submitted as evidence may be contaminated. Anwar's been jailed before on similar charges and later freed on appeal in 2004. His supporters say the latest twist shows there is change for the better in Malaysia. SOUNDBITE: Zainal Fakar Yacub, supporter of Ibrahim, saying (Bahasa Malaysia): "We came here to witness the process of democracy which happened today, and the outcome of the Anwar trial shows that this is the beginning of democratic progress in Malaysia." A conviction could have seen Anwar jailed for up to 20 years. His acquittal may now accelerate the political comeback of a man seen as one of Asia most celebrated reformers ahead of an election expected to happen this year. Paul Chapman, Reuters