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Friday, November 6, 1998 Published at 22:35 GMT

Anwar trial focuses on political plot

Mr Anwar was jailed two months ago

By Asia Analyst Angie Knox

The case against Anwar Ibrahim, who faces 10 charges of corruption and sodomy, took a turn for the worse just five days into his high-profile trial.

Malaysia Crisis Section
The prosecution's first witness, the head of police intelligence, Mohamad Said Awang, read out in court his own report which dismissed as unfounded allegations of sodomy and adultery against the former deputy prime minister.

[ image: Wan Azizah, Mr Anwar's wife, has been regularly attending court]
Wan Azizah, Mr Anwar's wife, has been regularly attending court
The allegations were made by Mr Anwar's driver and his private secretary's sister last year - and then retracted.

The police report, submitted to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, also said the allegations appeared to have been part of smear campaign against Mr Anwar.

Mr Said's admission brings to the fore claims by Mr Anwar that there was a high-level conspiracy to oust him.

Continuing evidence

The court is now waiting for another police report, which the defence counsel says names a group of cabinet ministers and senior officials responsible for orchestrating Mr Anwar's downfall.

Among them is Daim Zainuddin, a trusted ally of the prime minister, who is to be called later in the trial as a witness.

Mr Daim was brought into the cabinet as special functions minister with responsibility for the economy, effectively sidelining Mr Anwar - who also held the finance portfolio - from economic decisions.

[ image: Anti-government protestors support Mr Anwar]
Anti-government protestors support Mr Anwar
Mr Anwar had disagreed with Dr Mahathir over how to handle the economic crisis.

Others said to be named in the police report are the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, Megat Junid Megat Ayob, and Dr Mahathir's political secretary, Aziz Shamsuddin.

All three men were also named in a letter from Mr Anwar to the prime minister following his dismissal. The letter alleged they had plotted to remove him.

Mr Said told the court he might have named these senior officials in the second report, but later he said he was not sure he had even submitted it.

The prosecution lawyers have been asked to look for the report - if it exists. If it does, Mr Anwar's defence arguments will be considerably strengthened.

But there is little chance of a speedy conclusion to the trial. Mr Said is just the first of 52 witnesses the prosecution intends to call.

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