Street protests could break out if opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is stripped of his bail and sent to prison at a court hearing Wednesday on sodomy charges, his party said.
Anwar has dismissed the allegations -- the same charge that saw the former deputy premier jailed a decade ago -- as an attempt to derail his campaign to topple the government with the help of defecting lawmakers.
Last month he pleaded not guilty to the charge that he sodomised 23-year-old former aide Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, describing the allegations as "malicious" and a "slander."
He will appear in the Sessions Court for a hearing that his lawyer said could see the case moved to the High Court, or could possibly hear a petition to revoke his bail.
"If there is an application to withdraw the bail Wednesday, we will oppose it," lawyer Sankara Nair told AFP.
If government lawyers succeeded in such a move, 61-year-old Anwar would be detained in jail during a trial expected to last for several months, he added.
Tian Chua, information chief of Anwar's Keadilan party, said that hundreds of supporters were expected to converge on the court in Kuala Lumpur and warned against any move to revoke the bail conditions.
"It will spark public outrage. There could be street protests," he told AFP Tuesday.
Despite the serious allegation hanging over him, which carries a penalty of 20 years imprisonment, Anwar won a landslide by-election victory last month which returned him to parliament after a 10-year absence.
After March general elections that handed the opposition a third of parliamentary seats, he is now campaigning to secure the support of the 30 lawmakers from the ruling coalition he needs to form a new administration.
Sankara urged the authorities to drop the "trumped-up" charges.
"We fear Anwar will not get a fair trial since the charges are politically motivated," he said.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is under pressure to quit over his failure to check Anwar, has denied the government concocted the allegations against Anwar.
He has also vowed to thwart Anwar's bid to oust his coalition by September 16, a goal that political observers say will be very difficult to achieve.
Anwar's original sodomy conviction was overturned by the nation's highest court in 2004.
Agence France-Presse - 9/9/2008 8:37 AM GMT