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Testimony Continues in Anwar Trial

December 8, 1998

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Lawyers for Malaysia’s ousted deputy prime minister said today they planned to ask a court to disregard testimony from a key witness, claiming that he lied when he said their client had committed illegal sex acts.

The defense lawyers aim to discredit the main accuser of Anwar Ibrahim, whose sacking and trial on charges of corruption and sexual misconduct have triggered unprecedented demands for political reform and anti-government protests in this normally placid Southeast Asian capital.

The witness, Azizan Abu Bakar, testified that police had asked him to go to the Kuala Lumpur residence of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Aug. 24 for a late-night meeting that lasted more than one hour.

``The police told me that the prime minister wanted to know the true story,″ said Azizan, who claimed that Anwar had repeatedly sodomized him against his will. Sodomy is a crime in predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

Mahathir fired Anwar on Sept. 2, saying that Anwar was morally unfit to hold office.

Anwar is on trial on four counts of abuse of power. He will be tried later on another charge of corruption and five charges of committing illegal sex acts.

He has denied any wrongdoing, calling the charges part of a high-level conspiracy to ruin his political career.

Soon after dismissing Anwar, Mahathir told reporters that he had spoken to many people with whom Anwar was alleged to have had illegal sex. But he has not disclosed details of any such meetings.

Azizan, a former driver for Anwar’s wife, startled the court Monday by agreeing with a defense lawyer who said Anwar had in fact never sodomized him.

As defense lawyers continued to cross-examine Azizan today, they did not press him on his retraction. It still was not clear whether Azizan had actually reversed his testimony or simply misunderstood a defense lawyer’s question that prompted his comment Monday.

But defense lawyer Gurbachan Singh said today that he would seek to have Azizan’s testimony disqualified.

``We wish to institute impeachment proceedings against Azizan,″ Singh told the trial judge, Augustine Paul.

If Paul agrees, the defense team is expected to bring its own witnesses to testify against Azizan to try to prove that he lied about being sodomized by Anwar.

Azizan had accused Anwar of forcing him into sodomy in 1992. He told the court last week that shame and guilt kept him from making the acts public until last year.

Update hourly