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Sex, lies and conspiracy in Anwar trial

Wan Azizah (C), the wife of sacked Malaysian deputy prime minister and finance minister Anwar Ibrahim, arrives at the Malaysian High Court with her daughters Nurul Izzah (R) and Nurul Nuha November 6. REUTERS
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Sex has long been at the heart of Anwar Ibrahim's criminal case.

 Now there are lies, petty jealousy and possibly conspiracy.

 Five days into Anwar's historic corruption and sex trial, Malaysia's outgoing police intelligence chief read into the High Court record on Friday a statement that could have been written by the defendant himself.

 The document, taken from a report by Special Branch Director Mohamed Said Awang to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, exonerated Anwar of allegations of sodomy and adultery.

 What is more, it concluded that the allegations appeared to be "deliberately created" by a shadowy group out to smear Anwar.

 Coming from the prosecution's first witness, the statement was nothing short of stunning. The defence, out to prove that Anwar was the victim of a frame-up by political opponents, could almost be excused if it considered resting its case there.

 But in a super-heated climate of allegations, retractions and counter-allegations, the case was no doubt far from shut.

 Mohamed Said told the court on Thursday that he was prepared to lie if ordered by a superior to do so. He said earlier in the week that Anwar had urged police to obtain the retractions.

 Why, then, would the judge believe what Mohamed Said wrote in August 1997?

 What Mohamed Said surely did do, however, was to broaden the canvas before the court by introducing elements that for months have been kept off the front pages of the newspapers and largely confined to whispering in the capital's drawing rooms.

 He concluded that Ummi Hafilda Ali's report entitled "The Wrongdoings of the Deputy Prime Minister" was based on the suspicion that her sister-in-law, Shamsidar Taharin, was having an affair with Anwar. Shamsidar Taharin is the wife of Anwar's former private secretary.

 In an earlier twist in the political soap opera, Anwar was accused in a book, "Fifty Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister", of fathering an illegitimate child with Shamsidar. But blood tests later proved that her husband was the father.

 A judge recently banned distribution of the book pending a court verdict in Anwar's defamation suit against the author. The trial is set to start next month.

 The police veteran said in his report to Mahathir that Anwar's former driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, accused Anwar of sodomy because he was influenced by Ummi and "disliked the arrogant attitude of Shamsidar Taharin".

 In what was arguably the most significant revelation, Mohamed Said said there were "indications that there exists a certain group that may have their own agenda and played a role behind the scenes to urge Ummi Hafilda Ali and Azizan Abu Bakar to smear" Anwar.

 In the report, Mohamed Said named Mohd Taib Salamon, "an ex-police inspector who has been sacked". In court, he named a second man, B.K. Tan.

 While the report served the defence's needs, Anwar's lawyers were eager to get a second report by Mohamed Said which lawyer Christopher Fernando said mentioned political heavyweights close to Mahathir.

 Fernando cited Special Functions Minister Daim Zainuddin, Domestic Trade Minister Megat Junid Megat Ayob, former Malacca state chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik and Mahathir's political secretary Aziz Shamsuddin all of them Anwar antagonists. Mohamed Said told the court that he did not think a second report existed.