Monks have offered a more than 200-year-old bronze Buddha statue stolen in March from the Sambour Meas Pagoda to the Phnom Penh municipal authority for safekeeping, officials said yesterday.
Since a police investigation recovered the stolen Buddha in April, the statue has resided in the capital’s Dangkor district police administrative office to secure it against future theft.
On Tuesday, the pagoda’s monks handed over the statue to the municipal government in an official ceremony.
Long Dymang, deputy chief of the municipality’s administration office, said the statue would not return to the Sambour Meas Pagoda because officials and monks worried that thieves could break into the pagoda and steal it again.
“We want to keep this statue in a safe place,” Dangkor governer Nuth Puth Dara said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall does not allow the public to enter without written permission granted at least three days in advance.
Dymang was not sure where the statue would end up, but according to the municipality’s website, for the time being Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema has sent the statue to the National Museum to be cleaned by the museum’s archaeologists.
He had also offered the pagoda five million riel ($1,250), the website said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at [email protected]