Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Discovery of Buddha statue spells trouble for couple



Discovery of Buddha statue spells trouble for couple

A Banteay Meanchey couple have accused police of trying to extort them after they sold a Buddha statue head to a Thai man. Photo supplied
A Banteay Meanchey couple have accused police of trying to extort them after they sold a Buddha statue head to a Thai man. Photo supplied

Discovery of Buddha statue spells trouble for couple

A villager in Poy Char commune in Banteay Meanchay has accused local police of attempted extortion after he sold a Buddha statue he found on his property to a Thai national.

Tum Sandan, 49, yesterday said he unearthed the relic on July 21 and sold it to the man from Thailand for 70,000 Thai baht (about $2,000) and $100 cash. He said he did not know the buyer’s name.

Sandan said on July 24 the Phnom Srok district police chief, Yort Sophal, intimidated his wife into handing over most of the proceeds.

“Yort Sophal, the district police chief, accused me of illegally smuggling the ancient artefact,” Sandan said, adding that the officer told him his crime was the equivalent to treason. Sophal denied intimidating the couple, saying he had simply confiscated the money for evidence.

“This is illegal smuggling of an ancient statue,” Sophal said. “The money, we’ve already given to heritage police as evidence.”

Sandan said that he was feeding his cow when he found the statue head buried in the ground. He initially thought it was an explosive left over from the war but discovered its true nature after cleaning it.

Thai Norak Sathya, secretary of state at Ministry of Culture and Arts, said he believed the couple was likely trying to hide information relating to the identity of buyer.

“By law, the couple committed a crime, because they sold an ancient statue to foreigner. They should have given it to authorities,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,