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Wednesday, June 30, 1999 Published at 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Anwar's brother: Threats forced sex confession

Mr Sukma is frisked on his way into court

The adopted brother of Malaysia's jailed former deputy premier, Anwar Ibrahim, says police abused and threatened to kill him, to force him to confess to having sex with Mr Anwar.

Giving testimony to the High Court in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, Sukma Dermawan said he was frightened and humiliated into making a false confession.

Malaysia Crisis Section
"I was scared, frustrated, miserable and lost all hope," he said.

During two weeks in custody last year, Mr Sukma said a police officer tore his shirt, pinched his nipples hard and began groping his genitals while verbally abusing him.

Joint trial

He said he was put in a cold, damp cell in only his underwear, despite suffering from bronchitis and asthma, and then periodically removed for interrogations.

[ image: He is standing trial jointly with Mr Anwar on charges of sodomy]
He is standing trial jointly with Mr Anwar on charges of sodomy
Mr Sukma is standing trail jointly with Mr Anwar for having sex with the family driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, in 1993. Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia and carries up to 20 years in jail and a whipping.

In April, Mr Anwar was sentenced to six years in prison on the separate charge of abusing his office in an effort to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mr Sukma also gave evidence that the police threatened to plant bullets in his car, opening the way for charges of illegally possessing ammunition, a crime that carries a mandatory death sentence.

"They said they could plant bullets in my car," Mr Sukma told the court. "They said bullets were cheap, only 45 cents each."

Death threat

Mr Sukma said police also threatened to hire somebody to shoot him if he did not obey their instructions.

[ image: Anwar's alleged conduct has been severely criticised by Prime Minister Mahathir]
Anwar's alleged conduct has been severely criticised by Prime Minister Mahathir
He says he finally agreed to give evidence against his brother, Anwar Ibrahim, out of sheer terror, confessing to a homosexual relationship dating back decades.

Mr Sukma says a police officer then coached him on details of the confessions which he was to make before a magistrate.

"He said never mind if you get other things wrong, just get the sex part right," Mr Sukam told the court.

Mr Sukma has served six months in jail after being convicted on the basis of the confession, which he has now retracted.

Admissible evidence

The trial judge is now trying to decide whether or not his confession is still admissible as evidence against Mr Anwar before lawyers start calling witnesses for the trial.

The BBC's correspondent in Kuala Lumpur, Frances Harrison says that if Mr Sukma's disputed confession is allowed as evidence, it will be a major blow for the defence.

Mr Anwar has repeatedly denied all the charges against him which he says are port of a high level political conspiracy.

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