Disgraced Ex-Court Director Transferred From Prison to Clinic

The chief of Kandal Provincial Prison said on Thursday that Ang Mealaktei, the disgraced former Phnom Penh court director, had been transferred to an upmarket Phnom Penh clinic for medical treatment, but an administrator there said his name had not appeared on her register.

Mr. Mealaktei’s lawyer and a Kandal court prosecutor both also said that he was receiving treatment for a variety of illnesses—hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, and liver, heart and lung disease—which have all flared since he was placed in provisional detention on corruption charges in August.

Ang Mealaktei (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Ang Mealaktei (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“He went for treatment one week and one day ago,” said Chab Sineang, the prison chief. “He was sent to the Khema Clinic and Maternity in Phnom Penh escorted by two prison guards.”

The prison chief said that a doctor at Khema reported that Mr. Mealaktei’s condition required him to stay in the facility for treatment.

“The doctor told me that he was sent for treatment just in time. If we sent him a month later, he would have developed a problem that could not be treated,” he said.

At the Khema Clinic, however, a receptionist said the former court director had never checked in.

The woman, who declined to give her name because it was against company policy, asked a reporter to write Mr. Mealaktei’s name on a sheet of paper, and then began to search her computer for it.

“No, this name is not listed at this clinic,” she said.

A reporter scoured the halls of the three-story clinic—which has two “VIP Rooms” and one “Luxury Room”—and found no sign of guards or Mr. Mealaktei.

Back at the reception desk, Som Leakhena, the director of the clinic, told reporters that it was against company policy for him to share client information. He also forbade the receptionist from answering further questions.

In the morning, before the clinic visit, both Lim Sokuntha, the chief prosecutor at the Kandal court, and Tep Monycheath, Mr. Mealaktei’s lawyer, corroborated the prison chief’s claim that the former Phnom Penh Municipal Court director had been transferred to Khema.

Told that the receptionist said he had not checked in to the clinic, Mr. Monycheath said it was possible he had since been transferred to a different facility.

“I know he was sent there but maybe his family moved him to another hospital due to his condition,” he said. “I am not sure about this.”

Mr. Sokuntha, however, said that he would have to approve such movement, which he had not done, and said that Mr. Mealaktei was still at Khema.

“If he is moved to a different hospital, prison officials must report to me because he is a defendant,” he said. “Maybe because of internal rules at the clinic they did not tell you about their patient.”

Mr. Sineang, the prison chief, could not be reached in the     afternoon.

Mr. Mealaktei is being prosecuted by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on charges of embezzlement related to him confiscating a luxury SUV from an alleged drug dealer and gifting it to his son, a deputy district police officer in Phnom Penh.

He was removed from his position at the head of the Phnom Penh court in February, just hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a public speech that he may have accepted a multimillion-dollar bribe to release from prison two suspects connected to a high-profile assassination.

Om Yentieng, head of the ACU, has said that allegations against Mr. Mealaktei would be split up into separate cases to “expedite” the judicial process.

Mr. Yentieng and his deputy, Chhay Savuth, could not be reached on Thursday.

Mr. Monycheath, the lawyer, said his client’s trial would begin later this month.

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