Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Statues seized at border

Statues seized at border

Three Buddhist statues sit next to the car of an officer from Cambodia’s military police who has been detained by Thai authorities for smuggling the statues across the border
Three Buddhist statues sit next to the car of an officer from Cambodia’s military police who has been detained by Thai authorities for smuggling the statues across the border over the weekend. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Statues seized at border

An intelligence officer from Cambodia’s military police was detained by authorities in Thailand on Saturday evening on suspicion of involvement in looting antiquities, after allegedly crossing the border with three Cambodian Buddhist statues.

Soeun Oeun, 38, who is stationed in Battambang province, had reportedly crossed the border in the Thma Puok district of Banteay Meanchey province when he was stopped and searched by Thai soldiers.

According to Banteay Meanchey military police deputy commander Lieutenant Colonel Men Phirum, the Thai soldiers found the three statues in the back of the car Oeun was driving.

“Thai soldiers kept hold of the three statues but have handed over the suspect and his car to Cambodian authorities,” Phirum said yesterday.

Thma Puok district police chief Major Bun Sophath yesterday said that Oeun is currently being questioned at a police facility near the Cambodia-Thailand border. Sophath said negotiations were also underway with Thai authorities to arrange the return of the artifacts.

Looting of artefacts is an ongoing problem for Cambodia, with corrupt officials often linked to the criminal activity.

The United States is currently negotiating the return of recently seized antiquities worth an estimated $3 million, while in December 2013, Sotheby’s was forced to agree to hand back a stolen statue due for auction that was valued at $2 million.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro