KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian judges were sent to an indoctrination "boot camp" and threatened with dismissal to pressure them into making pro-government decisions, a senior judge said according to reports Wednesday. In explosive allegations made in open court, Justice Ian Chin said he was threatened by former premier Mahathir Mohamad over his handling of high-profile cases, one involving a close associate of the then-leader. "Now, though he is no longer the prime minister and so no longer able to carry out his threat to remove judges, the coalition party that he led is still around," he said, according to the Borneo Post. Chin made the allegations, which were picked up by the national Press Wednesday, before hearing a dispute over results of March general elections in Sarawak state on Borneo island. He said he was targeted by Mahathir after refusing to award "astronomical" payouts in two libel cases in 1997, while a judge who agreed with the then-premier's views was promoted to the Federal Court. Afterwards, Chin reportedly said he was packed off to a five-day boot camp with selected judges and judicial officers. It was without any doubt "an attempt to indoctrinate those attending the boot camp to hold the view that the government interest as being more important than all else when we are considering our judgement," he said. Cabinet minister Zaid Ibrahim, who is in charge of legal affairs, indicated he believed the allegations would harm the reputation of the nation's justice system. "I can't say I'm surprised by the revelations. There have been many stories in the past," he told reporters. "It is regrettable that it has happened, it is a bad reflection on our country. We have to make sure it does not happen again," he said. "You should not tell judges what they can or cannot do." However, he dismissed calls from the Bar Council for an official probe into the allegations. "An investigation will not reveal anything more than what we know. What we need to do is restore judicial independence and make sure such incidents do not happen," he said. Bar Council President Ambiga Sreenavasan said the allegations were "both startling and damning." "Judges, both present and past, must be encouraged to come forward and provide information on any such instances of interference so that further action may be taken," she said according to the New Straits Times.