Malaysian PM accused of plotting Anwar sodomy trial
KUALA LUMPUR |
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Lawyers for Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Monday sought to implicate the country's prime minister in a conspiracy to frame Anwar on charges that he sodomised a former male aide.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has admitted meeting Anwar's accuser, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, after he said he was sodomised by Anwar but before a complaint was made to the police in June 2008. Najib has also denied interfering in the case.
Saiful told the court that he met Najib on June 24, two days before his deposition stated that the 63-year-old opposition leader had sodomised him, a crime in this mainly Muslim country, and four days before he went to the police.
"I told him (Najib) about my problems," a nervous-looking Saiful, now 25, told the Kuala Lumpur High Court on the first day of his cross-examination by Anwar's lawyers.
He did not elaborate on what his problems were.
If convicted, Anwar could be jailed for 20 years, a sentence that would effectively end the career of the man who has succeeded in uniting Malaysia's opposition rainbow coalition of Islamists, reformers and ethnic Chinese political parties.
Anwar was convicted of sodomy in 2000, adding to an earlier sentence for corruption, following his ouster as deputy prime minister at the height of the 1998 Asian financial crisis. The earlier sodomy conviction in a trial that was widely criticised for being unfair was overturned on appeal.
That left Anwar free to contest a parliamentary seat after polls in 2008 that saw the government that has now ruled Malaysia for 52 years fall to its worst ever results in national and state elections.
The political uncertainty combined with the global financial crisis saw foreign investors flee Malaysia and despite the promise of economic reforms and a return to strong economic growth in Asia's third-most trade-dependent economy, they have not returned.
Najib was deputy prime minister at the time of the alleged sodomy and took the top job in April last year, pledging to open up the economy and mend tensions between the majority Malay and minority ethnic Chinese and Indian populations.
"The prime minister is involved. There is a political conspiracy to eliminate Anwar from his seat," defence lawyer Karpal Singh told the court.
Karpal on Monday also challenged Saiful's claims that he had been sodomised, saying they were not backed up by a medical report.
The trial is due to last until August.
(Writing by David Chance; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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