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Anwar sodomy trial delayed

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy trial, which opened last week, was halted Monday after the defense moved for the judge's disqualification.

High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah postponed the proceedings until Tuesday when he will hear the application by Anwar's attorney Karpal Singh seeking the judge's recusal, Bernama news agency reported.

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The defense's application relates to the judge's ruling on its claims of bias in some local media coverage of the trial.

The application said the ruling "brings to surface an element of real danger of bias on the part of the learned trial judge," Bernama reported.

The trial was halted as the defense was set cross-examine a 25-year-old former male aide that Anwar is accused of sodomizing at an upscale private condominium in June 2008.

The 63-year-old former deputy prime minister has denied the charge, saying the ruling National Front is targeting him because it sees his opposition coalition as a political threat. The government has said it is not involved.

Anwar was arrested last July four months after his opposition coalition parties made major gains in parliamentary elections. The U.S. State Department has expressed concerns over his arrest.

It is the second such trial on similar charges for Anwar, who could be sentenced to 20 years in prison if convicted.

In the earlier case, he was convicted of sodomy and corruption in 1998 and spent six years in prison before his conviction was overturned.

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