KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Reuters) -- The judge in Anwar Ibrahim's trial warned the sacked finance minister on Wednesday to avoid discussing the corruption and sex case after he was quoted as chiding the judge and a key witness.
"Please advise your client to avoid speaking about the case, especially as everything that one says gets picked up," High Court Judge Augustine Paul told Anwar's lead counsel, Raja Aziz Addruse, at the start of the eighth day of the trial.
The judge was responding to a complaint by the lead prosecution lawyer,
Abdul Gani Patail, who cited an article in the local Star newspaper on
Wednesday which quoted Anwar as speaking during a break in the proceedings
"No eating in court, according to Justice Paul," the tabloid quoted Anwar as telling family members during the break while he ate food.
The headline referred to the trial's first witness, Mohamed Said Awang, who told the court last week that he might lie if superiors ordered him to do so, and then said this week that he had not lied during nearly five days of testimony.
"He (Mohamed Said) has given six versions already," the Star quoted Anwar as saying. "I'm counting."
Anwar has pleaded not guilty to five counts of corruption and five of sodomy. Initially, the court is hearing four corruption counts that allege he urged police to obtain retractions from a man and a woman who had accused him of sex crimes.
Raja Aziz told the court Anwar had been speaking to his family, not to reporters, during Tuesday's break and had not referred to the judge when discussing the ban on food in court.
"The gag order I issued was to ensure that the case is adduced, as evidence is given in court in the interest of justice. I request that this be stopped," the judge said.
Anwar has spoken to the press several times during breaks in the trial, criticizing Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who sacked him on September 2, calling him morally unfit.
In an apparent setback to Anwar, he said they should focus on the four corruption charges at hand which allege he had abused his power by urging police to get two people to retract sex accusations.
One of Anwar's lawyers, Christopher Fernando, told the judge as he was cross-examining the prosecution's fifth witness that the defense was trying to prove "that these are trumped-up charges to remove the accused and destroy him politically."
"This sounds like a political speech," the judge said. "It should be addressed to a different forum."
After Fernando persisted, saying the defense would seek to prove that the prosecution witnesses were lying as part of a larger conspiracy against Anwar, the judge rebuked him.
"I really can see no bearing between the case and the line you are adopting," he said.
The trial's second witness, Abdul Aziz Husin of the police intelligence unit, finished testifying on Wednesday. He had told the court on Tuesday that police forced a man and a woman to retract allegations of sex crimes against Anwar by threatening them during an all-night interrogation last year.
Rohani Ismail, a clerk at the police intelligence unit, later told the court she had typed the retraction letter by the female accuser, who is the sister of Anwar's former private secretary.