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New court president seeks to mend relationships

About 100 judges, prosecutors, clerks, police officers and other government officials gathered at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for the first of what new court president Taing Sunlay said would be a regular monthly meeting to foster cooperation between police and the court.

“The purpose of the meeting was to cooperate … in order to combat drug trafficking and robberies, which have been increasingly occurring in Phnom Penh,” Sunlay said in an interview. “And also, as I have just started my new work as president of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, it was an opportunity for us to meet and get to know each other,” he added.

The meeting comes just days after the very public ouster of former court president Ang Maltey over a controversy surrounding an alleged multimillion-dollar bribe paid for the release on bail of the parents of fugitive tycoon Thong Sarath.

While some in attendance said cooperation between the two organisations had always been smooth, some said the relationship had frayed of late.

Captain Seng Keang, a municipal police officer, said that tensions between the court and police had flared lately, thanks to what he characterised as the court’s tendency to release too many suspects.

“Police have worked very hard in cracking down and arresting perpetrators in city, but sometimes after arresting them . . . they were then released on bail. And after their release, they have continued [to commit] other crimes,” he said.

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