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May 28, 2017

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Malaysia opposition leader charged over defying ban

KUALA LUMPUR -- Prosecutors charged Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and two of his allies Tuesday with breaking various laws during a massive street rally to demand electoral fairness.

The charges could distract Anwar from preparing for national elections that many speculate will be held by September.

The three men were charged in a Kuala Lumpur court with defying a court ban against assembling at a public square in Kuala Lumpur last month and inciting other demonstrators to breach a police barricade.

They pleaded innocent and face a maximum jail sentence of six months and fines totaling 12,000 ringgit (US$3,800) if convicted. The court scheduled a preliminary hearing on July 2 to determine further trial dates.

"It is clearly a politically motivated charge. Elections are around the corner," Anwar told reporters.

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