Prosecutors label the defence's first witness, Puffy's bodyguard, a liar...

The trial proper of SEAN ‘PUFFY’ COMBS kicked off in MANHATTAN SUPERIOR COURT yesterday (January 29) in explosive fashion, with prosecutors labelling the defence’s first witness a liar.

Prosector Matthew Bogdanos angrily told Judge Solomons, in the absence of the jury, that he believed Combs’ bodyguard, Curtis Howard, had perjured himself under oath in order to help his boss.

Howard consistently denied having seen Combs with a gun in the early hours of December 27, 1999 – when Combs, another bodyguard, Anthony ‘Wolf’ Jones, and rapper Jamal ‘Shyne’ Barrow are alleged to have been involved in an incident at Club New York that left three shot.

However, his reliability as a witness will be sorely tested – much of his evidence contradicted earlier testimony he had given to the grand jury about exactly what happened on the night in question.

Earlier, both defence and prosecution laid out the shape their cases would take.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Sean ‘Puff Daddy’ Combs,” Combs’ co-counsel Benjamin Brafman began.

“You can call him Sean, you can call him Mr. Combs. You can call him Puff Daddy. You can call him just plain Puffy. But the one thing you cannot do in this case is call him guilty.”

He went to on to say that not only was Combs not carrying a gun that night, but he was threatened in the club by a stranger who brandished a gun and said he would ‘bust a cap in [Combs’] ass’. He went on to explain that the case was been driven by lies and the greed of people jealous of Puffy’s fame.

It was a point echoed by Murray Richman, lawyer for Shyne. He said his client was a talented young man from an impoverished background, but on the night of the shootings he became a victim of people “who are jealous of talent, who by their jealousy feel they have to denigrate and hurt people”. He said he would present witnesses who could identify the original agitators, and also deny that Shyne had fired any shots.

Jones’ lawyer, Michael Bachner, suggested that the gun found in the car in which his client and Combs were caught attempting to flee the scene, in fact belonged to the driver Wardel Fenderson and that Fenderson, who has alleged the pair attempted to bribe him into admitting ownership, was motivated by greed.

Bogdanos explained how he could prove all three were involved and that in fact Shyne pulled the trigger in the club, angered by those “who disrespected his boss [Combs]”.

The case continues today (January 30).