Anwar said the young man had violated Islamic Shariah laws by making an allegation without foundation.
KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIAN opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Wednesday challenged a young man who accused him of sodomy to produce four male witnesses, as required by Islamic law.
Mr Anwar filed a formal complaint with the Islamic Affairs Department against his 23-year-old accuser, saying the young man had violated Islamic Shariah laws by making an allegation without foundation.
The former deputy prime minister has dismissed the accusation as a political conspiracy to stop him from bringing down the government. He has threatened to get enough ruling party lawmakers to defect by mid-September.
Mr Anwar's lawyer Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman said that under Islamic laws whoever alleges unlawful sex must have four credible male witnesses to back their claim.
'Otherwise they cannot allege,' she said. 'It's a very serious allegation. You destroy someone's life.'
If the Islamic Affairs Department finds merit in Mr Anwar's complaint, the matter could be taken to a Shariah Court, where Mr Anwar's accuser could face up to three years in jail if found guilty of making a false accusation.
Mr Anwar has also filed a defamation suit in a civil court against the man, who used to work in his office as a volunteer.
He dropped a political bombshell last month when he told the police he was sodomised by Mr Anwar. He is under police protection after making the allegation, which has slowed Mr Anwar's political campaign.
Mr Anwar's civil and Islamic suits have no bearing on a separate investigation being carried out against him by the police.
Mr Anwar says the sodomy accusation was aimed at causing disgust against him, especially among Muslim Malays, who make up 60 per cent of the country's 27 million people. Sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years in jail in Malaysia.
'This slander is a major issue particularly because it involves a sexual crime, and the attempt is of course to mislead the Muslim population to attack me and my character,' Mr Anwar told reporters after filing the complaint. 'It's demeaning to me and my family.'
Malaysia has a dual court system. Islamic authorities and courts govern civil matters relating to Islam, while civil courts decide issues not related to the religion.
Mr Anwar was similarly accused of sodomy a decade ago when he was deputy prime minister and began questioning the policies of then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
He was convicted and served six years in prison but as freed in 2004 when the sodomy charge was overturned on a technicality.
'It has happened before in 1998. The same silly fabrication continues unabated with impunity. This is sickening to my mind,' he said.
Since being freed, he has made a political comeback. His three-party opposition alliance made spectacular gains in March general elections, denying the ruling coalition their traditional two-thirds parliamentary majority. -- AP
[Wonderfully done, Mr Anwar. I have lost all respect for you. To think that when you sodomise someone you didn't have the decency to do it in front of 4 male witnesses. And why didn't you use this defence back in 1998?]