Mr. Anwar Ibrahim, former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, is facing trial on charges of corruption and abuse of office. He is also accused of one other charge of corruption and five of sexual misconduct. For his part Mr Anwar vigorously denies the charges calling them "petty and preposterous". He says he is the victim of a political smear campaign.
He is accused of using his office to suppress an Anti-Corruption Agency investigation into the activities of his private secretary, and of committing "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" with five different men including his speech writer, driver and adopted brother. Mr Anwar also faces charges of seeking to interfere with the interrogation of witnesses to the alleged sodomy to protect himself from prosecution.
The allegations against Mr Anwar are surprising because until little more than a month ago he was widely seen as the anointed successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The charges follow more than a year of rumour and poison pen letters alleging his involvement in illegal homosexual activities, steadily undermining his position. They culminated in the release of the book 50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister, a body-blow timed to coincide with the annual assembly of the ruling Umno party in June 1998. In graphic detail it accused Mr Anwar of such activities as sexual impropriety with both genders, graft, witness tampering and treason.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mahathir and Mr Anwar, in his role as finance minister, grew increasingly at odds over how best to pull the country out of the economic gloom overshadowing Asia. For months Kuala Lumpur's political circles were rife with rumour and speculation that Mr Anwar would resign and he became increasingly isolated from his party.
Eventually he was sacked, beginning a campaign to oust his former mentor, Prime Minister Mahathir, the man he once called "teacher". Now, expelled from office and party membership, and faced with serious criminal charges, he is a political outsider.
Timeline (Sept.-Dec. 1998):
(taken from A Crisis Unfolds: Timeline)
Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim
is sacked after months of economic policy differences with Prime Minister
Anwar sacked (2 September)
Mr Anwar accuses the prime minister of paranoia and resisting urgently-needed
Malaysian PM 'paranoid' (4 September)
Thousands join reform rally (13 September)
Anwar Ibrahim alleges a smear campaign against him, after two men reportedly
confess to allowing him to sodomise them.
Sodomy charges increase heat on Anwar
Malaysian police arrest Anwar Ibrahim after a raid on his home in Kuala
Lumpur. Hours later, his wife tells supporters she will continue his struggle.
Anwar arrested amid protests (20 September)
Anwar's wife continues fight (21 September)
Malaysian riot police break up a demonstration by Mr Anwar's supporters.
Crackdown on Kuala Lumpur protest
Police say Anwar Ibrahim, is "safe and sound" in custody, in response
to fears among his supporters about his fate.
Police say Anwar 'safe and sound'
Mahathir Mohamad suggests injuries sustained by Mr Anwar - revealed
in a court appearance - may have been self-inflicted
Anwar accused of beating himself up
A Malaysian doctor who says he has examined Anwar Ibrahim says the bruising
on the former deputy premier's face is the result of an assault.
Doctor says Anwar 'victim of assault'
The controversy surrounding Anwar Ibrahim's arrest worries and angers
a growing number of Malaysia's regional allies.
Mounting criticism to Anwar detention(4 October)
Wearing a neck brace, Anwar Ibrahim pleads not guilty to charges of
corruption and committing illegal homosexual acts, in a second appearance
at the high court in Kuala Lumpur.
Anwar in court (5 October)
Hundreds of people are arrested in Kuala Lumpur as supporters of Anwar
Ibrahim clash with police.
Hundreds arrested in riots (24 October)
In a statement from prison, Anwar Ibrahim denounces the use of force
by police to break up anti-government demonstrations.
Anwar denounces police violence (27 October)
A judge throws out an appeal by Mr Anwar against his imprisonment. The
decision means his 2 November trial is set to go ahead.
Appeal fails (28 October)
On the first day of his trial on corruption charges, Anwar Ibrahim tells
reporters he is "in good health and expecting a good trial." But the day
ends in controversy over the judge's refusal to allow observer status to
Anwar trial begins (2 November)
The first prosecution witness delivers fresh allegations of homosexuality
on the second day of the trial.
New sex claims (3 November)
A senior police officer discloses that he has found indications of a
conspiracy to smear Anwar Ibrahim.
Anwar sex claims 'were false' (6 November)
Hundreds of Anwar supporters demonstrate in Kuala Lumpur in the first
anti-government demonstration since the start of the trial.
Anwar supporters protest (8 November)
In a TV interview, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad dismisses
calls for his resignation and defends the sacking of his deputy.
I'm not quitting - Mahathir (10 November)
The judge in the trial of Anwar Ibrahim tells defence lawyers to avoid
allegations of political conspiracy and concentrate on the charges of corruption.
Conspiracy not an issue, says judge (11 November)
The former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, files a legal
challenge against his sacking by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Anwar sues Mahathir (13 November)
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visits the wife of Anwar Ibrahim,
before cutting short a trip to Malaysia.
Albright snubs Malaysia (15 November)
The Malaysian Government reacts angrily to criticism about the reform
process by US Vice-President Al Gore, describing his comments as 'most
Malaysian anger at Gore rebuke (17 November)
The trial of Anwar Ibrahim resumes after adjourning for a week while
Malaysia hosted a summit of Asian-Pacific countries.
Trial resumes (23 November)
A former senior police officer testifies for the prosecution, saying
Anwar Ibrahim forced him to modify key documents to clear him of allegations
of sexual misconduct.
Witness says Anwar doctored sex statements
The trial is thrown into disarray as one of Anwar Ibrahim's lawyers
is given a three-month jail sentence for contempt of court.
Anwar: Where is Justice?
Azizan Abu Bakar, a former driver for Mr Anwar's wife, tells the High
Court that the jailed politician turned him into a "homosexual slave",
but abruptly changes his testimony days later.
Anwar driver tells of sex 'slavery'
Witness reverses sodomy charge
The judge in Anwar Ibrahim's trial refuses defence demands to disqualify
key prosecution witness Azizan Abu Bakar.
Double blow for Anwar team
'Mistress' claim in Anwar trial
Prosecutors at the Anwar trial produce a mattress in court which they
say was stained with semen from Mr Anwar's alleged sexual misconduct.
Prosecutors show mattress in trial
Anwar Ibrahim and his wife call on Malaysians to strengthen their struggle
Anwar urges justice, in Christmas message
A doctor appearing as a prosecution witness in the Anar trial says there
is no evidence that Mr Anwar's adopted brother, Sukma Darmawan, was sodomised.
Doctor: No evidence Anwar's brother sodomised (29 December)
A government chemist at the Anwar trial says a mattress produced in
court was stained with semen from Mr Anwar.
Anwar trial hears DNA evidence