HOUSTON – Defense witnesses in the fraud and conspiracy trial of former Enron Corp. top executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling picked away at parts of the government’s allegations Tuesday, disputing earlier testimony that partnerships run by the company’s former finance chief got special treatment for buying problem assets. Other witnesses also countered prosecution testimony that layoffs were disguised as reassigned jobs and that a troubled power project in India helped spell financial disaster. While no defense witness so far has launched an encompassing attack on the government’s case, all were called to counter portions of prosecution testimony as a run-up to the main event: the defendants on the witness stand. Lead Skilling lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said Tuesday his client likely will begin testifying Thursday, a day later than he originally expected, because two witnesses are expected to be on the stand all day today. Testimony continued without Lay’s lead lawyer, Michael Ramsey, who was undergoing tests in advance of surgery at a Houston hospital to unclog the carotid artery in his neck. A stent was placed in an artery in his heart last month. Lay said he and the rest of his legal team would carry on without seeking to interrupt or postpone the trial, and they were confident Ramsey would return to court before the case ends. “Certainly he will be out of pocket for a few days,” Lay said, noting that Ramsey was communicating regularly with the team. “I fully expect him to be back before the trial is over. We’re going to proceed ahead.” In court on Tuesday, Mark Metts, a former top executive in mergers and acquisitions for Enron, sought to counter testimony from former Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow that Skilling knew Fastow used personally lucrative partnerships to help the energy company hide losses and manufacture earnings. Fastow told jurors last month that the second of the partnerships, LJM2, was created to warehouse failing Enron assets and investments so the energy company could book income and rid its ledgers of debt. In return, Enron ensured LJM2 didn’t lose money, the ex-CFO said. Metts testified Tuesday that in April 2001 he was trying to sell an Enron wind-power business to UBS Warburg when Fastow said LJM2 wanted to bid, but balked when asked to go through the same process as UBS. Metts said he’d never had the impression Skilling favored LJM2 over other asset buyers, although Fastow screamed. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!