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Court questions 8 councillors who reported pagoda theft

Court questions 8 councillors who reported pagoda theft

Eight provincial and district councillors who passed on information from a monk claiming goods had been stolen by his pagoda chief were summonsed to the Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court yesterday for questioning.

The group, all of them members of the opposition party, were asked to explain their involvement in the case after the pagoda’s senior officials accused them of disinformation, according to a court warrant signed by deputy prosecutor Ek Son Rasmey.

“I am not disrupting the pagoda’s internal affairs, but it’s about the lost treasure; we had to file a complaint to the police and court,” Doung Chetra, one of the provincial councillor’s summonsed, said yesterday. “We could not hide this information. The treasure does not belong to one person or the pagoda, but it belongs to the state. We have to report its disappearance.”

Late last year, Om Young reported to the group that he believed the chief of Wat Boeng Knar, in Samaki Meanchey district, had stolen a box of valuable antique coins, jewellery and statues.

Young, who had spent three decades as a monk, was defrocked in March for the report and the pagoda then sought to have charges laid on the eight who reported the case to the police.

“In November 2012, I saw the treasure being taken away and took a photo to report to the CNRP activists and the court,” Young said.

Sao Hon, a Samaki Meanchey district councillor, said there appeared little proof to support the pagoda’s disinformation claims.

“The case is the true information, because the monk had photographic proof.”

Doung Sokha, district police chief, said police and pagoda officials were investigating the disappearance.

Pagoda officials could not be reached for comment.

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