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Malaysia's jailed former finance minister claims he's been poisoned


The trial of Anwar Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN)-- Malaysia's jailed former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim and his wife claim he has been poisoned while incarcerated.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of Anwar Ibrahim and herself a medical doctor, told CNN Friday that she smuggled a sample of her husband's urine out of prison for testing because she thought he looked ill.

She said an Australian testing lab found it contained 77 times the normal level of arsenic, an element that can cause kidney and liver failure and death.

"His hair is falling off very easily when the doctors checked this afternoon," she said, adding that he has lost weight and his skin is dry, all symptoms of arsenic poisoning. "Otherwise, he is in very good spirits."

Anwar's sodomy trial was adjourned Friday so that he could be taken to the hospital and authorities could look into Azizah's allegations.

Anwar's wife said she believes her husband's life is in danger. When he was arrested last year, she said, "he was beaten very severely. It shows most likely that there is a conspiracy behind all this."

"It's now proven that I have been poisoned," Anwar said in a police report filed on Friday and read to reporters by his wife.

"I regret that the conspiracy to topple me has not been limited to just political action but now also involves physical moves to poison me."

Anwar's attorney Karpal Singh, who is a leader of an opposition party, said he suspected "some people in high places" were responsible for poisoning the former minister.

Chief prosecutors have suggested Anwar's wife could have intentionally poisoned her husband by bringing him tainted food, a suggestion she called "preposterous."

"Why should I ever bring poison to my husband?" Azizah asked.

Latest twist

Anwar's allegation he was poisoned was the latest twist in Malaysia's year-long political drama pitting the charismatic ex-deputy prime minister against his former mentor, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar was sacked by Mahathir in September 1998 and was arrested later that month after leading thousands of anti- government protesters through the capital.

The then police chief hit the handcuffed and blindfolded Anwar on the night of his arrest. The former prime-minister in-waiting later appeared in court with a black eye and bruises, sparking international condemnation.

Before the police chief admitted he hit Anwar, Mahathir said his former deputy's injuries could have been self-inflicted.

Anwar was sentenced in April to six years in jail for corruption. He says he is innocent and the victim of a plot by political opponents, led by Mahathir, to sideline him from power.

Reuters contributed to this report.


Arsenic reported in Anwar's urine
September 9, 1999
Anwar lawyers say prosecution's case is flimsy
September 9, 1999
Prosecution wraps up case against Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim
August 20, 1999
Anwar defense charges government persecution
June 11, 1999
Malaysia's Anwar stands trial again
June 7, 1999
Malaysia to pursue sodomy count against Anwar
April 27, 1999

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