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Newspaper is politically biased, says opposition leader in gay slander case

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim tells court Utusan Malaysia is mostly owned by ruling political party
Anwar Ibrahim Malaysian leader of the opposition

The leader of the opposition in Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim, in court to clear his name from the ‘defamation’ that he supports gay rights, has accused the top-selling Malay language newspaper in the country of political bias.

Anwar said the majority of shareholders and the board of directors of Utusan Malaysia are connected to the UMNO, the biggest political party in the Barisan Nasional coalition that rules the country, the Malaysian Insider reports.

Under cross-examination from the newspaper’s defence lawyer Firoz Hussein, Anwar said UNMO is listed in Utusan’s 2010 annual report as owning 49.77% of shares, and said that other shareholders were also linked to the party.

Anwar is seeking 50 million Malaysia Ringgit ($16 million, €13 million) in damages and an injunction to stop Utusan Malaysia reporting that he said the country’s laws criminalising homosexual acts are ‘archaic’ and ‘not relevant’ in a BBC interview.

The politician himself was cleared of sodomy in court in January, an accusation that has followed him for years and that he says was politically motivated.

Earlier in the trial Anwar said that gay people should be discriminated against, a sentiment that was heavily criticised by Human Rights Watch.

The trial continues in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

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