Conspiracy Against Anwar Alleged

Lawyers for Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday sought "crucial" evidence which they suggested exposed a political conspiracy to drive the former Malaysian finance minister from office.

"The whole case actually depends on this," lawyer Pawancheek Marican told reporters after Anwar's corruption and sex trial adjourned on the fourth day.

He was referring to a 1997 report by police intelligence chief Mohamad Said Awang to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad which cleared Anwar of allegations of sexual misconduct.

The lawyers asked for a court order to obtain the report. Pawancheek described it as a "crucial bit of evidence."

Former intelligence chief Awang testified Thursday that Mahathir's chief economic adviser, Daim Zainuddin, plotted with the sister of Anwar Ibrahim's private secretary to prove he was indulging in illegal sex.

Two statements -- including one by Anwar's personal driver -- alleged that the former finance minister engaged in illegal sex that included sodomy.

The details of the possible involvement of government ministers in a scheme to unseat Anwar were mentioned in a police report that was sent to Mahathir in August 1997, Mohamed said during his cross-examination by defense lawyers.

"Did the report you gave to the prime minister contain a statement from you that the allegations were politically motivated?" asked Christopher Fernando, one of Anwar's nine defense attorneys.

"I don't deny it," Mohamed replied.

"Did you mention that Daim Zainuddin met with Ummi Hafilda as part of the scheme?" Fernando asked.

"I don't deny that," said Mohamed.

Mohamed startled the court earlier by saying he might lie under oath if ordered to do so by his bosses.

Anwar, sacked as deputy prime minister and finance minister Sept. 2, faces 10 counts of abuse of power and sexual misconduct. He denies the charges and says they were fabricated because Mahathir considered Anwar's popularity a threat to his 17-year rule.

Since Anwar's Sept. 20 arrest, tens of thousands of Malaysians have rallied for his release and Mahathir's resignation. The case attracted attention from international human rights groups after Anwar arrived at his arraignment with a black eye and bruises. He claimed police beat him.

Mohamed testified Wednesday that Anwar, 51, demanded intelligence officers intimidate the two people who had accused him of sexual misbehavior. He said the officers secured written retractions from both accusers.

Mohamed said he agreed to get the retractions from Ummi and Azizan despite believing the sexual allegations.

Throughout the trial, Anwar has spent most of his time in the dock taking notes. On Thursday, Anwar's 13-year-old son Mohamed Ihsan stroked his father's hand while Anwar spoke with his wife, Azizah Ismail.

The national news agency Bernama, meanwhile, confirmed earlier reports that Mahathir is among 5planned prosecution witnesses.

Meanwhile, Anwar's cousin became the 18th of his associates to be detained, it was reported Thursday.

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