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Malaysia’s Anwar wins $1 million libel case

Malaysia's former 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 wrecked his career.
/ Source: 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 $1.2 million 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 honor.”

“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.

Book triggered Anwar's downfall
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 life.

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," he added.