Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stolen items unclear

Stolen items unclear

A monk prays outside a stupa at Oudong Mountain in December
A monk prays outside a stupa at Oudong Mountain in December. Authorities are investigating the theft of artefacts from the site. Heng Chivoan

Stolen items unclear

More than a week after thieves robbed a stupa at Oudong Mountain containing relics believed to contain the remains of Buddha himself, Kandal Provincial Court said yesterday that it still had yet to receive a full accounting from the Ministry of Culture of precisely what was stolen.

Judge Lim Sokuntha said yesterday that his lack of certainty over exactly what objects were missing was hindering his ability to search for the appropriate charges to be assigned to the stupa robbery.

“Tomorrow [Friday], I will send another letter to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to write down the history of the mountain, and tell me what has really been lost. All I know is that some relics are lost,” Sokuntha said.

“I want to know whether the lost things are sacred to the nation, or if they have other meanings, because that will help me to look at the laws and decide if we keep the same charge of theft, or change [the charges].”

Five people are now in detention over their alleged involvement: Pha Sokhem, the head of the stupa’s security guards, whose house was found to contain some ancient artefacts when it was searched; security guards Ka Sat, Seang Sarin and Chom Thai; and villager Kann Sopheak, who drank with the guards on the night in question.

The five are now facing charges of aggravated theft, and are due to be questioned further today, Sokuntha said.

He also added yesterday that he had also issued a warrant to “all national police throughout the country” on Wednesday, asking them to aid in the recovery of the artefacts, rather than leaving the matter to
judicial investigators, as would usually be the case.

“I issued a warrant for police to help the court to prevent the export of suspicious artefacts at some borders,” he said. “They can confiscate things if there is any doubt about them. We need police to cooperate, because it’s a national issue.”


  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not