Five artefacts recovered in Thailand during the investigation into former intelligence chief Pongpat Chayapan were preliminarily identified as long-lost Khmer treasures, according to the Thai Fine Arts Department.
Cambodian experts who reviewed pictures of the artefacts, some of which Thailand dated back to the early 15th-century Kulen era, said the statues are obvious fakes, however.
“I don’t know why they think the statues might be real,” said Kong Vireak, director of the National Museum.
According to the Thai Fine Arts Department, “experienced curators” identified 104 objects among thousands recovered in the Pongpat loot that could be genuine. The five picked out as being in the “Khmer style” depict a Buddha, a Shiva, a Brahma and an unknown “4-arm cult image[s]”.
“I’ll be short. Those statues are new,” said Bertrand Porte, from Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient.
Though Cambodian experts have requested access to the trove, Thailand has asked for patience while internal matters related to the criminal investigation into Pongpat are wrapped up, according to Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.