Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim criticised his sodomy trial due to begin on Tuesday as the "machinations of the dirty, corrupt few" as he arrived at court.
Anwar, who was sacked as deputy premier and jailed on similar charges a decade ago, said he was "praying for the best" but that there were doubts he would receive a fair trial.
Dressed in a grey suit and striped shirt, the 62-year-old arrived at the court with his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and two of his daughters.
"These are the machinations of the dirty, corrupt few" he said of the trial which he maintains is a conspiracy to end his political career and neutralise the threat he poses to the Barisan Nasional coalition government.
Anwar`s lawyer Sankara Nair said he would ask the High Court to delay the trial until the defence has concluded legal proceedings including a bid to obtain access to prosecution evidence such as medical reports and CCTV footage.
"They should not proceed with the matter. Anwar should be allowed to exhaust all appeals," Sankara told reporters at the court. "Everything should be disposed of, to ensure a fair trial."
The trial was originally due to start last July but has been repeatedly delayed as the defence team pursued various legal manoeuvres, including an attempt to have the whole case struck out.
As the hearing got underway, about 40 Anwar supporters marched into the High Court building and stood on the staircase in the main lobby, yelling "Reformasi" which is Anwar`s battlecry.
Carrying banners that read "Justice for Anwar," they resisted police attempts to remove them from the building.
Anwar rallied the opposition to unprecedented gains in 2008 elections, seizing a third of parliamentary seats in the most potent challenge yet to the Barisan Nasional which has ruled for half a century.
Anwar, a married father of six, was a star finance minister before being sacked in 1998 amid a policy row with then-premier Mahathir Mohamad during the Asian economic crisis.
He was convicted of sodomy and corruption but the sex charge was overturned and he was freed from prison in 2004 after six years behind bars.