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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 23:39 GMT
Comic testifies at Jackson trial
Aides hold umbrellas over Michael Jackson as he arrives at court
Michael Jackson appeared happier than he had a day earlier
A comedian has said a "disturbing" call from the mother of Michael Jackson's child sex accuser led her to believe the family was being held captive.

Louise Palanker testified that Gavin Arvizo's mother called her shortly after a damaging TV documentary about the singer was aired in February 2003.

Ms Palanker was called by prosecutors to support the charge that Mr Jackson conspired to hold the family prisoner.

The singer denies 10 charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment.

It was an extremely disturbing phone call... I felt they [the Arvizo family] were held against their will
Louise Palanker
prosecution witness

Mr Jackson - still looking increasingly frail - was shielded by his aides as he arrived on time in the courtroom in Santa Maria, California, on Tuesday.

The 46-year-old pop star moved slowly, apparently suffering from back pain.

Mr Jackson's late arrival in court on Monday - accompanied by a doctor and apparently frail and weeping - led to a 45-minute delay to proceedings.

As he left the court after Ms Palanker's testimony he told reporters: "I'm doing better."

'Evil people'

On the witness stand, Ms Palanker said she received a tearful phone call from Gavin Arvizo's mother, Janet, in early February 2003, when prosecutors say the family was being held prisoner by Mr Jackson and his aides.

Louise Palanker arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in Santa Maria, California
Louise Palanker said she was very concerned after the phone call

"It's not a safe line, they're listening to every word I say. These people are evil, they are keeping us," Ms Palanker quoted the mother of the boy as telling her.

"It was an extremely disturbing phone call. I felt they were held against their will," she said.

Ms Palanker, who first met the family in 2000 as Gavin was fighting cancer, did not say where the mother was at the time of the call.

However, she said she was so concerned that she contacted her lawyer.

$20,000 gift

Ms Palanker was called to back the charge that the singer conspired to hold the Arvizo family captive after the 6 February 2003 documentary.

In that film, Mr Jackson was seen holding the hand of his accuser, who was 13 at the time. The singer also acknowledged letting children sleep in his bed.

The prosecution argues that after the airing of the film, which triggered the child molestation investigation, Mr Jackson and his aides began to panic and decided to get the family to make a video praising the singer.

Mr Jackson denies the charge. His lawyers say Gavin's mother tried to exploit relationships with Ms Palanker and other celebrities to extort money.

But Ms Palanker, who gave the Arvizo family $20,000 (10,608) in 2000, testified that Janet Arvizo had never asked her for money.

Ms Palanker said it was the woman's former husband who had pursued her for cash.

Mr Jackson's trial has entered its fourth week.

Gavin Arvizo alleges that Mr Jackson molested him at his Neverland ranch in 2003.

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