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Malaysia's Ex-Deputy Premier Target of Smear Campaign, Police Report Says

By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, November 7, 1998; Page A22   next article click here

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Nov. 6óMalaysia's police intelligence chief concluded more than a year ago that allegations of sexual misconduct against then-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim were "baseless" and "deliberately created" as part of a broad conspiracy "to smear" Anwar, a Malaysian court was told today.

 Mohamed Said Awang made the statements in an August 1997 report he delivered to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Today, Mohamed Said read portions of the report on the fifth day of Anwar's trial on sex and corruption charges. His testimony as the prosecution's lead witness seemed a major reversal for the government's case against Anwar and was likely to further fuel the widespread public belief that Anwar has been targeted by political enemies who wanted him removed.

 The allegations are "baseless and are more dependent on imagination and assumption," Mohamed Said wrote in his 1997 report, which was written in Malay. "Through our sources, the allegations do not have, [or] contain, any proof, and the sequence of events appears to be deliberately created."

 Mohamed Said prepared the report after arresting and interrogating Anwar's driver and a female acquaintance, who had sent a letter to Mahathir accusing Anwar of sodomy and adultery. In dismissing the allegations as false, Mohamed Said concluded, "there are indications that there exists a certain group that may have their own agenda and played a role behind the scenes to urge [the two accusers] to smear Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim." Datuk Seri is a title of respect in Malaysia.

 Prosecutors turned the document over to Judge Augustine Paul this morning. Anwar's defense lawyers had demanded the report, calling it "crucial" to proving that their client was innocent of the sodomy allegations.

 Since his dismissal last September as Malaysia's second-most powerful politician, and his arrest 18 days later on the sodomy charges, Anwar has maintained that he is the victim of a conspiracy. Before his arrest, Anwar led tens of thousands of Malaysians in demanding reform of the country's authoritarian political system, an end to high-level corruption and the resignation of Mahathir, who has held power for 17 years .

 Mahathir has accused Anwar of wanting to lead an Indonesian-style street revolt to topple him.

 Despite today's reversal for government prosecutors, even critics of the proceedings cautioned that Anwar has not yet won the trial. Prosecutors plan to call more than 50 additional witnesses, including Mahathir.

 "I think the prosecution is in total disarray," said Syed Husin Ali, who heads the opposition Malaysian People's Party. "From what I've heard, they might as well close their case."
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company