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P Sihanouk province’s ‘biting monk’ to stay in office, officials say

P Sihanouk province’s ‘biting monk’ to stay in office, officials say

Victims say they are too afraid to file complaints against the ‘powerful’ monk; provincial officials explain that they have no authority to intervene.

A PROMINENT monk accused of getting drunk and biting his colleagues remains in office because of a lack of authority over the case and the absence of formal charges, officials said.

Kiet Chan Thouch, an adviser to Great Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, was accused by his fellow monks and nuns of attacking them during the course of a boozy weekend bender earlier this month.

Witnesses said the 76-year-old abbot of Wat Leu pagoda in Preah Sihanouk province drank too much and fought with four monks, two clergymen and a nun over a 48-hour period.

Speaking to the Post on Monday, Kang Dinath, director of the Department of Cults and Religious Affairs for Preah Sihanouk province, said: “I have been to the pagoda to examine the place, but I could not find any wine bottles or glasses at all. All we have heard are rumours saying that he has drunk alcohol and beaten priests and nuns at the pagoda in the past.”

Buddhist monks are banned from drinking alcohol. Had the allegations been proved, Kiet Chan Thouch could have been defrocked, but his alleged victims last week said they were “too afraid” to file formal complaints.

Kang Dinath said Monday that he could not yet take any further measures because of the abbot’s high position in the Buddhist clergy. “He is appointed by the Royal Kret and is beyond my authority, so I have to pass the case on to the monk management board,” he said.

Khim Sorn, assistant monk to the Venerable Buddhist Clergy Director Non Nget, said the board had not yet received any official complaints about the monk’s behaviour.

Last week, several monks recounted the abbot’s alleged drunken spree. Koa Suon, a 76-year-old monk in the same temple, said Kiet Chan Thouch bit him after becoming intoxicated.

“Kiet Chan Thouch got drunk and ordered me to come out of my room, or he would shoot me and lock me in the room forever,” he told the Post, saying he had been forced to flee. “The monks in this pagoda dare not confront him because he is a powerful monk.”

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