In his first public appearance since his arrest nine days earlier, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in court Tuesday that he was beaten unconscious while in police detention.
He showed the court a bruised face and body at his arraignment on corruption and sex charges and pleaded not guilty to the nine charges against him.
Outside, riot police patrolled the streets to keep Anwar’s supporters from swarming the courthouse. The former government official is fast becoming a symbol of opposition to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s 17 years of rule.
Since Anwar’s arrest, Kuala Lumpur, the capital, has been rocked by street protests demanding his release and Mahathir’s resignation. On Monday, at least 80 protesters were arrested.
Anwar, 51, was arraigned on four counts of illegal homosexual acts during his tenure as finance minister and deputy prime minister before Mahathir fired him Sept. 2.
The five corruption charges relate to alleged misuse of his ministerial powers to thwart the investigation of the illegal sex charges against him.
Two of the men Anwar is charged with having sex with--both of whom confessed and received six-month jail terms--on Tuesday retracted their confessions and appealed their convictions. Their lawyer said the confessions “were not voluntary.”
Mahathir has said that he was compelled to fire Anwar because of the allegations of homosexuality against his deputy. But Anwar says that he incurred Mahathir’s wrath by challenging his rule.