May 22 - Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is charged over an anti-government rally in April that brought thousands onto the streets. Paul Chapman reports.
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim arrives at court in Kuala Lumpur. He's here to be formally charged in connection with April's mass anti-government rally. He's accused of violating a public assembly law and disobeying a court order. At least 25, 000 people turned out on the streets of the capital to demand electoral reforms. The rally descended into chaos as police fired tear gas and water cannon into the crowds. With an election in the offing Anwar, one of two opposition politicians charged, says it's all a government plan to keep him out of it. SOUNDBITE: ANWAR IBRAHIM, MALAYSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER, SAYING (English): "The motive is of course to convict and disallow us from contesting in the election." Anwar's lawyer says they'll be fighting back. SOUNDBITE: SANKARA NAIR, DEFENCE LAWYER FOR IBRAHIM, SAYING (English): "(The) Charges are totally unnecessary, frivolous and constitutionally flawed. We're going to challenge the constitutionality of this new act." Anwar's already spent six years in jail on sex and corruption charges. A five-year ban following his jail term ended in 2008 with his return to parliament in a by-election. Putting further legal pressure on him could be risky for the government. It could increase the sympathy vote for Anwar and his three-party opposition coalition in a vote already expected to be close-run. Paul Chapman, Reuters