KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Police arrested Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Wednesday, less than an hour before a deadline for him to appear at police headquarters to answer allegations that he sodomized a male aide.
About a dozen policemen, some of them wearing balaclavas, cordoned off the road leading to Anwar’s house and stopped his car, said his lawyer Sankara Nair. The policemen informed Anwar that they had orders to arrest him, said his lawyer Sankara Nair.
“They arrested him. No reason was given,” said Nair. He said Anwar was bundled into a police car and taken to the police headquarters. No one else from Anwar’s entourage was allowed to get into the car with him, he said. There was no trouble or violence.
It was not clear why Anwar was arrested since he had said he would present himself for interrogation before the Wednesday 2 p.m. deadline set by the police. Earlier Wednesday, Anwar told reporters that he wants the police to “conduct the investigation professionally.”
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was arrested by the police just outside his home in Bukit Segambut, Kuala Lumpur, at 12.55pm today.
The de facto PKR leader was on his way back to his house after being questioned by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).
A team of police officers were waiting, according to lawyer R Sivarasa.
Anwar was driven away in a 4WD vehicle with tinted windows, escorted by a convoy of 15 patrol cars. They arrived at Kuala Lumpur police headquarters at 1.11pm.
It is believed that members of a special team from the serious crime division – sporting balaclavas and leather jackets – were also involved in the operation.
At 1.40pm, about 200 supporters and opposition parliamentarians were assembled outside the building. Among them is DAP leader Karpal Singh.
Anwar was to have met the police by 2pm to be questioned over the complaint of sodomy against him by a former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
According to media reports today, a warrant of arrest had already been obtained, to be used in the event of a no-show.
Anwar’s wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail confirmed the arrest.
She told reporters in parliament that she had received a call from Anwar and that he had complained of rough treatment by the arresting officers.
“I received a call from my husband that the police picked him up just before he reached the house,” she said.
“I didn’t have time to ask whether there was a warrant… He’s on the way – this is my guess – to the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters, where he was supposed to report at 2pm.”
Anwar also told her to return to their home first in order to calm their children and come to the police headquarters later.
“I’m apprehensive because my husband – it’s been 10 years down the road. He is not well, he has a bad back for which he has (undergone) surgery,” said Azizah, who appeared visibly distraughted and numbed by the news.
“From the brief conversation, he said that they (the police) were not gentle.”
It is learnt that Anwar is to be charged under Section 377C of the Penal Code which relates to ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’.
A recent amendment to the provision reads: ‘Any person who has sexual connection with another person by the introduction of any object into the vagina or anus of the other person shall be punished with imprisonment or a term which may extend to 20 years and shall also be liable to whipping.’
A number of the parliamentarians and Anwar’s family members have been allowed into the IPK building, while journalists are being confined to the carpark.
A small team of police light-strike force personnel, accompanied by a water-cannon truck, is keeping a watchful eye on supporters who are milling outside the compound.
According to PKR MP Wee Choo Keong, who is inside the building, Wan Azizah and her two daughters – Nurul Izzah and Nurul Nuha – were allowed to see Anwar on the 7th floor at about 2pm.
At 2.35pm, Wan Azizah and her daughters, as well as Anwar’s lawyer Sankara Nair came out of the building.