Judge Denies Keeping Guard Dogs At Court

Siem Reap Provincial Court Di­rector Ang Mealaktei denied Tuesday allegations by SRP parliamentarian Son Chhay that he was keeping two large dogs at the courthouse to ward off visits from poor villagers who have lost their land in court.

Ang Mealaktei said that the dogs were not his, and called Son Chhay’s accusations slanderous.

“Those dogs belong to a court clerk that stays in temporary lodgings within the…court compound,” he said by telephone.

Son Chhay said he has received a number of complaints concerning the two vicious-looking dogs from court officials and Siem Reap residents.

“It is illegal to bring cruel dogs to work to intimidate villagers or other court officials,” Son Chhay said.

Ang Mealaktei claimed that the dogs follow their owner to work every day.

“Sometimes, other court officials…play with them because the two dogs have never bitten a single court employee or villager,” he added.

So Vat, chief prosecutor at the court, also said that the two canines, which appear to be German Shep­herds, belonged to a clerk.

But So Vat added: “No one brings pets to the office.”

Son Chhay said that he had seen the animals stationed outside Ang Mealaktei’s office during a Sept 23 visit to the court.

Son Chhay speculated that the court director might have sought the protection of the dogs against vil­lagers who have lost land in cased he has presided over.

In recent months, the court director has ruled in favor of the rich in a large number of cases where the poorer parties were ab­sent from court, Son Chhay alleged.

“This court director has made a lot of mistakes,” he claimed, adding that he had sent a complaint to the Supreme Council of Magistracy seeking an investigation.

Ang Mealaktei said the SRP lawmaker’s accusations of wrongdoing were unfounded and were probably inspired by people who were upset that they had not won their cases in his courthouse.

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