Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Charges over broken statue

Charges over broken statue

Workers repair a Buddha statue earlier last week after it was damaged by a tourist at Siem Reap’s ancient Bayon temple
Workers repair a Buddha statue earlier last week after it was damaged by a tourist at Siem Reap’s ancient Bayon temple. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Charges over broken statue

Charges have been filed in the case of a tourist from New Zealand who toppled and broke a Buddha statue in Cambodia’s ancient Bayon temple before fleeing back to New Zealand, a police official has confirmed.

“Even though she is not Cambodian, according to the law we have to file a complaint against her to protect our heritage and statues. It has already been presented at the [Siem Reap provincial] court,” said Pan Chay, chief of the heritage police in Siem Reap.

Chay declined to elaborate on the specific charges and the sentences they would imply, citing further investigation.

Willemijn Vermaat, the Dutch tourist who broke the statue, is now back in New Zealand, where she has lived for the past eight years.

Last week, Vermaat told New Zealand media that she pushed the statue – a replica from 1988 – under the orders of a mystical spirit goddess.

Friends of Vermaat told reporters she had been struggling with personal issues.

But there is no clear indication whether Vermaat will be extradited to Cambodia to face the charges.

“We have not been contacted by the Cambodian authorities regarding this case”, said Nick Peulen, a Dutch embassy official in Bangkok.

Although the possibility of such an extradition seems unlikely – New Zealand and Cambodia do not have any extradition agreement, and efforts to extradite New Zealand-based internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom to the US are dragging on – some Cambodian officials are not letting the matter go.

Apsara Authority director Bun Narith said the organisation, which manages the Angkor Wat complex, had already asked the advice of the Council of Jurists at Cambodia’s Council of Ministers to figure out a way to bring Vermaat to justice.

“We will ask how to proceed,” Narith said.

He added that the Buddha statue at the centre of the storm has been repaired, and will be reinaugurated in its rightful place in a ceremony on Thursday.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM orders immediate action against ‘sexy’ live streamers

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered immediate action against women who live stream their sales pitches on Facebook wearing revealing clothing. The prime minister said the practice erodes traditional Cambodian values and disgraces women. Hun Sen gave the order to officials attending the Cambodian

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank

  • Tourist area greenlit in Sihanoukville

    The National Committee for Coastal Management and Development will coordinate with relevant ministries over the establishment of a billion-dollar tourist area named Neak Reach in Preah Sihanouk province after it was proposed by the Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and

  • Organic vegetable retailer unveils QR code scheme for origin source

    Organic vegetable retailer Natural Agriculture Village has introduced QR codes on its product packaging, which will allow consumers to see where their produce comes from. Natural Agriculture Village president Bun Sieng, who is also a member of local distributor Green Gold, told The Post on

  • Mine kills military officer along border in Preah Vihear province

    A military officer died on Friday after he stepped on a landmine in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district, near the Thai border. Chin Hat, a 45-year-old warrant officer, died instantly as a result of the explosion. He was attached to the K-398 unit

  • Private sector, unions ‘regret’ EBA decision

    The private sector and workers associations have expressed disappointment at the EU’s recent decision to partially withdraw the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme awarded to Cambodia. The Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, the European Chamber of Commerce, and the American Chamber of Commerce, together with