KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A doctor told a Malaysian court on Thursday he was convinced that a young man who has accused opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of having sex with him was indeed sodomised despite earlier expressing doubts.
Anwar, 62, has denied the charge and says it is a repeat of a government conspiracy that saw him dismissed as deputy prime minister in 1998 and eventually tried and convicted on charges of graft and later sodomy.
Razali Ibrahim was one of three government doctors who examined 25-year-old Saiful Bukhari Azlan and earlier concluded that there were no signs of anal penetration.
Razali however told a packed courtroom in Kuala Lumpur that the presence of semen now indicated sodomy. He said he had changed his conclusion because he had earlier been told of the presence of semen but not its location.
He did not say to whom the semen belonged.
Defence lawyers told the court Anwar was not present at the flat where the alleged act took place.
Homosexual sex is illegal in mainly Muslim Malaysia. A conviction could carry a 20-year jail term, effectively ending the career of Anwar, who is the biggest threat to the government that has ruled Malaysia for 52 years.
Anwar’s rainbow coalition of Islamists, reformers and ethnic Chinese scored their best results in elections in 2008, depriving the National Front government of its two-thirds majority in parliament and ending up with five of Malaysia’s 13 states.
The shock results unnerved financial markets and Malaysia’s government, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is struggling to bring in a raft of reforms to win back foreign investment and to cut a budget deficit that hit a 20-year high in 2009.
Najib, who took office in April 2009 after his lacklustre predecessor was ousted, has struggled to deliver on measures such as cutting government subsidies and may face a backlash from the majority Malay population that forms the core of his political support.
Anwar has accused Najib of involvement in the charge against him and the trial is widely seen as part of a bigger battle for public opinion between the opposition and ruling coalition.
Mostly pro-government mainstream Malaysian media have lapped up lurid details of the trial and have published photos showing “in camera” trial proceedings that prompted complaints by the defence of bias.
“It should not affect me, because if they could succeed they would have a long time ago. For twelve years I have been faced with the same thing,” Anwar told reporters outside court.
Reporting by Razak Ahmad; Editing by Paul Tait