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Sacked abbot says novice was accosted

A RECENTLY deposed abbot in Banteay Meanchey province said on Wednesday that one of his colleagues was aggressively manhandled by the abbot’s successor.

So Yuth, 74, said a novice monk was accosted after the younger man tried to accompany him on a visit to his home village. “The new abbot came along with two other monks and violently confiscated the monk’s identity book from him,” So Yuth said.

So Yuth said the men violently grabbed the younger monk’s hands, legs and head in an effort to impede him. So Yuth was the chief monk at Prasat Soksan Banteay Torp pagoda in Thnal Dach village, Thma Puok district, for three years until one month ago, when he was replaced by Suos Soy, 62.

Loeun Dos, chief of Thnal Dach village, said: “I want to see monks solve problems peacefully.” Monks shouldn’t engage in public tussles, he said, because it could upset local villagers. In this case, villagers were surprised by the scuffle and flocked to see the “event”, he said.

So Yuth was deposed after being accused of not keeping a proper budget and flirting with a nun – charges the former abbot vehemently denied. “I didn’t keep a budget because I found the money I spent to build the pagoda,” he said. “At this age, I cannot love another. What I said with the nun was just joking.”

However, the district’s monk chief, Lon Sochi, insisted the allegations were true, accusing So Yuth of soliciting donations to build a new pagoda but throwing away the envelopes containing the names of donors. “This is serious because no one knows … where the money has gone,” Lon Sochi said. Suos Soy could not be reached for comment.

The incident is not the first recent case of monk-on-monk violence. Last month, the head of Preah Sihanouk province’s main pagoda was accused of getting drunk and biting his colleagues during a two-day bender. Kiet Chan Thouch, 76 and an adviser to Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, denied the allegations.

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