By EILEEN NG (AP) – May 10, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The young man who claims opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim sodomized him acknowledged in court Monday that he had met with Malaysia’s prime minister four days before making a police complaint against Anwar.
The defense hopes that Saiful Bukhari Azlan’s testimony under cross-examination will bolster its contention that the sodomy trial against Anwar is a political conspiracy masterminded by Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife.
Saiful’s admission that he met with Najib proves “the issue of conspiracy by Najib and higher-ups in the government,” Anwar told reporters after the hearing.
Sodomy, even between consenting adults, is a crime in this Muslim-majority nation. If convicted, Anwar faces 20 years in prison that could end the career of the veteran politician who has aspirations to become the prime minister.
The trial, which resumed Monday after a three-month break, has attracted international attention. Amnesty International has called it a sham.
“When a country like Malaysia uses this (sodomy accusation) against the leader of its political opposition, it smacks of political persecution as well,” said Lance Lattig, an Amnesty researcher.
Saiful, 24, claims he was sodomized several times by Anwar in 2008 but did not go to police. Instead, he discussed it with Najib, who was then the deputy prime minister, on June 24, 2008.
“I went to him (Najib) to complain about my problem, my dilemma,” Saiful testified.
He claims he was sodomized again by Anwar on June 26, 2008 and that he made a police complaint on June 28.
Anwar, a 62-year-old married father of six children, is on trial for the alleged incident on June 26 only.
Najib acknowledges meeting Saiful at his home but says he offered no advice. Saiful knew one of his officers, who arranged the meeting. Saiful came as an “ordinary citizen who wanted to tell me something,” Najib told reporters in 2008.
Anwar challenged Najib to appear in court to explain the details of the meeting. Few details of the meeting are known, and questions remains as to how a common citizen like Saiful managed to meet a powerful politican like Najib at his home.
“It will be a futile trial if he chooses to use his influence … not to appear in court with (wife) Rosmah,” Anwar said. He added his lawyers will also show that Rosmah had met Saiful previously, a claim that the first lady and Saiful have denied.
It is the second time that Anwar has been accused of sodomy. In 1998, he lost his post as deputy prime minister and spent six years in jail for sodomy and abuse of power. He was freed in 2004 when a court overturned the sodomy conviction. Two years ago, Anwar led a three-party opposition alliance to major gains in elections.
Najib denies Anwar’s claim that he is a victim of a government conspiracy to undermine the opposition alliance, which hopes to win power in national elections scheduled to be held by 2013.
Anwar’s lawyers point to some contradictions in Saiful’s testimony. One medical report says Saiful initially told a doctor a plastic object had been inserted in his anus.On Monday, Saiful said the doctor was lying and had fabricated the report