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Tuesday, Sept 22
Police investigate wife of former deputy prime minister
By ALVIN UNG (Associated Press)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - With sacked deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim and 11 of his colleagues detained, police on Tuesday turned their sights on his wife.

They have threatened to arrest Azizah Ismail for comments she made suggesting her husband had been injected with the HIV virus while in police detention.

Army trucks filled with field troops carrying assault rifles surrounded Anwar's home Tuesday.

Another 30 riot police with tear gas canisters lurked outside the house as supporters gathered inside.

Though the mood was tense at Anwar's house, the rest of the capital was calm, following violent clashes between police and Anwar supporters Monday.

Anwar, who was sacked earlier this month, was expected to face charges of sexual misconduct and disturbing the public order. His arrest Sunday has added a volatile element to Malaysia's political and economic troubles.

The unrest also comes during the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip. Demonstrators at the courthouse where supporters expected Anwar to be charged Monday lunged at the queen's convoy as it drove by, prompting riot police to move in.

Anwar, arrested under the country's Internal Security Act, has not been seen since police dragged him, Azizah and two of their six children from their home Sunday night.

Anwar had said his wife would take over his political reform movement in the event of his arrest. Her arrest would be seen as another step by the government to crush the growing movement calling for an end to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's 17-year leadership.

The police intimidation appeared to be working.

Azizah told reporters Tuesday that she would no longer hold nightly reform rallies at their house. She called on Anwar's supporters to remain peaceful, saying the police would use their disorder as an excuse to arrest them.

''I want things to be stable,'' she said. ''They'll use that excuse to kill us all.''

Azizah said the police had visited her three times since Anwar's arrest and had threatened to arrest her. They asked her to pacify the crowds that gather nightly at her home, shouting anti-government slogans and demanding Mahathir's resignation. Mohamed Hisham, one of the rally organizers, said the public gatherings would continue in other states.

''Practically all the leaders have been detained,'' he said. ''But we will regroup by using pamphlets and by word of mouth. The people will come back.''

Anwar was fired by Mahathir Sept. 2 as his deputy and finance minister on charges of sexual misconduct.

The sacked deputy has vehemently denied the charges and says they are part of a government conspiracy to thwart his growing challenge to Mahathir.

Police said Azizah told CNBC news Monday that her husband's life had been threatened by police.

Police spokesman Ghazali Mohd. Amin said Azizah told CNBC: ''We have news to say that maybe Anwar's life is in danger because he may be given some injection of the HIV virus to prove whatever allegations ... in the long run to cost his life. This is why I am afraid for my husband's life.''

Ghazali said Azizah's statement could incite hostility against the criminal justice system and that Azizah could be charged with sedition.

Anwar supporters at the home Tuesday were much more subdued, toning down their usual chants of ''Reform,'' and whispering about those detained under the ISA.

On Monday, thousands of Anwar supporters flooded to the criminal courthouse, where they had expected Anwar to be arraigned on a criminal charge of sodomy.

They were dispersed by an army reserve unit and riot police, beating batons on their shields, firing tear gas and jets of water spiked with stinging chemicals.

Police Tuesday said 132 people, including 17 foreigners, were detained for involvement in the courthouse rioting.

Eleven of Anwar's closest supporters were also picked up Monday under the ISA, which allows suspects deemed a threat to national security to be held for up to 60 days without trial or legal council.

Amnesty International called for Anwar and his colleagues to be charged promptly or released.

The group said it was concerned that Anwar ''and the other detainees are being held solely because of their critical political views and are possible prisoners of conscience.''