Star prosecution witnesses, Azizan Abu Bakar and Ummi Hafilda Ali, have spent weeks testifying how Anwar allegedly indulged in illegal sex."Now you are saying these charges brought by Ummi and Azizan are nothing more than allegations," Raja Aziz told the court Wednesday.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) -- Unexpected changes were made to key charges against ousted deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim Wednesday as confirmation came that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad would be called to testify in the trial.
Anwar's counsel Christopher Fernando told the High Court the defense team wanted to call Mahathir and Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin to testify.
Details of the planned witnesses for the defense came as charges linked to allegations of sex trysts against Anwar were unexpectedly diluted in a bizarre twist to the politician's long-running trial.
Outraged defense lawyers objected loudly to the changes but were quickly overruled by trial judge Augustine Paul who said the changes to the charges were not substantive.
He allowed the prosecutors to amend the four charges of corruption for which Anwar is being initially tried.
He faces one more count of corruption and five charges of illegal sexual acts, including sodomy. But none of those charges were either dropped or changed.
What the prosecutors appeared to have done was to rewrite the four charges so that they did not have to prove Anwar abused his power as Cabinet minister in 1997 to order police to force two accusers to retract allegations of sex crimes.
The amended charges were read out to Anwar, who once again pleaded innocent.
"I'm of the view that it's no real substantive change. The accused isn't prejudiced by these amended charges," the judge said, drawing a loud groan from the public gallery.
A fuming Anwar told reporters during a short break in the proceedings: "They already stripped me naked. Now they are amending the charges."
Star prosecution witnesses, Azizan Abu Bakar and Ummi Hafilda Ali, have spent weeks testifying how Anwar allegedly indulged in illegal sex.
Azizan, a former driver in the Anwar household, alleged he was repeatedly sodomized by the former Malaysian deputy prime minister. Ummi alleged Anwar was sleeping with her brother's wife.
"Now you are saying these charges brought by Ummi and Azizan are nothing more than allegations," Raja Aziz told the court Wednesday.
If convicted, Anwar faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail and a fine of 20,000 ringgit ($5,260) on each corruption charge.
Anwar denies the allegations and says he is the victim of a political conspiracy to undermine his challenge to the 17- year leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The primary change in the four charges is to refer to "allegations" of sexual misconduct and sodomy rather than conclusively stating that he had committed those offenses.
The amendments in two of the four charges say Anwar was trying to protect himself "from embarrassment" instead of "criminal action or proceedings."
An independent lawyer told Reuters that the changes appeared to indicate the prosecution felt it was having difficulty proving the sexual allegations against Anwar.
The changes were made just as the government lawyers were wrapping up their case on the four corruption charges. Prosecutor drops sexual misconduct reference in Anwar trial
The defense also plans to call Domestic Trade Minister Megat Junid Megat Ayob and former police chief Abdul Rahim Noor to the witness stand.
The Associated Press and Reuters