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Ministry appeals against porn

Ministry appeals against porn

THE Ministry of Information has urged all Cambodians to refrain from distributing videos of naked women recorded by a disgraced monk, calling for an effort to “restore the values of women and reputations that have already been damaged”.

Neth Kai, 35, a monk at Srah Chak pagoda, was arrested on June 26 and remanded in custody after being accused of using a cell phone to secretly record hundreds of videos of women showering in a public bathroom there.

He was defrocked soon after the scandal broke, and Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged him with producing pornography. If found guilty, he faces a sentence of a month to a year in prison and a fine of between US$48 and $480.

In a statement issued yesterday, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith called for the spread of the videos to be curtailed. “We have noticed that the [practice] of sending the video via Bluetooth from one person to another is ongoing, although there is prohibition from the authorities,” the statement read.

Khieu Kanharith also said in the statement that Neth Kai would be sentenced “in a suitable fashion”.

“Police have arrested and defrocked Neth Kai, as well as other people who have committed related offences,” he stated.

“The Ministry of Information would like to appeal to all people … to block the videos and refrain from watching them in order to restore the values of women and reputations that have already been damaged.”

Khem Sorn, chief monk for Phnom Penh Municipality, said yesterday that a new chief abbot would be appointed to the pagoda on July 21. Former chief abbot Meas Kung was forced to resign in the wake of the scandal.

“The new chief abbot for the pagoda will be selected by a committee ... to restore the pagoda after the scandal,” he said.

He said the pagoda would re-evaluate the roughly 70 monks, nuns and laymen who lived and worked on the premises, and that only those “who believe in the Buddhist principles” would be allowed to return when the new abbot is appointed.

“I hope the pagoda’s good reputation returns after there is a new and well-organised structure, which is carefully examined by the new chief abbot,” he said.

He added that Neth Kai’s actions had not destroyed the reputation of Buddhism in Phnom Penh, since they were “an individual issue for his personal commitment”.

Keo Thea, director of the municipal Bureau of Anti-human-trafficking and Juvenile Protection, has warned that anyone caught in possession of the offending clips will face punishment.

Soeun Sophak, 24, was arrested last Thursday on suspicion of distributing the clips, and was hastily sentenced to one month in jail by Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

“If people are caught watching these video clips, they will face a punishment of a week to a month in jail and a fine of 100,000 to 200,000 riels [$24 to $48],” Keo Thea said after Soeun Sophak was arrested. “This is a move to restore the value of women.”

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