The sodomy trial of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim resumed today with the defense cross-examining the prosecution’s key witness in a bid to prove the case is politically motivated.
Lawyers for Anwar led off by discussing a meeting between his accuser and former aide, and Prime Minister Najib Razak four days before a police report was filed in June 2008. The aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, said today he visited with Najib in his private residence to discuss an unspecified “problem.”
“The Prime Minister is involved,” Karpal Singh, Anwar’s lead counsel, said during today’s hearing. “There is a political conspiracy to eliminate Anwar Ibrahim from the political scene.”
The ability of Anwar’s team to demonstrate a conspiracy and avoid a guilty verdict may determine the future of his People’s Alliance coalition and whether he can participate in elections required by 2013. Sodomy carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence in Malaysia, even when between two consenting adults.
Najib, who was then deputy premier, has said he met with Saiful a few days before the police report was filed but denies advising him. The opposition won control of five of Malaysia’s 13 states in March 2008 general elections, loosening the five- decade hold of Najib’s National Front on power.
The resumption of the trial, which began Feb. 3, comes almost two years after Saiful accused Anwar of having sex with him in a Kuala Lumpur apartment. Anwar faced similar allegations in 1998 and was sentenced to nine years in jail for sodomy and a separate corruption charge. He was released in 2004 after the conviction was overturned.
Today’s testimony also focused on the results of medical examinations of Saiful after the alleged act. The result of a report showing no conclusive evidence of sodomy could be explained by the use of lubricant, Saiful said.
His testimony on the first day of the trial, which began Feb. 3, described his reaction to a sexual proposition from Anwar. The opposition leader has denounced the charge as a “malicious accusation” by political opponents.
Judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah today also rejected a defense request that prosecutors provide a list of witnesses in the trial, citing previous denials by other courts.