Two young men accused of damaging six Shiva Linga statutes at a national heritage site at Kulen Mountain were arrested in Siem Reap after telling authorities they wanted to "test the quality of their swords" on the phallic figures, police said on Thursday.
Sun Eng, police chief in Svay Leu district, identified the two young men arrested on Wednesday as Saroeun Yot, 21, and Pring Mao, 18, of Preah Ang Thom village. He said they were being interrogated on Thursday.
The damage took place at the "River of a Thousand Lingas", where Shiva Linga statues – phallic representations of the Hindu god Shiva – abound. The suspects completely destroyed three of them and damaged three others, said Hong Horn, police chief for heritage protection at the mountain.
“They admitted that they had damaged the statues because they wanted to test the quality of their swords,” he said. A third suspect fled and is being sought by police.
The swords were collected as evidence and provincial police’s minor crime office is preparing to file a complaint to the court, he said.
Police plan to charge the suspects with “destroying national heritage” under the Cultural Heritage Law. They could face up to five years in prison and a fine equal to the value of the cultural objects, which would be determined by an expert, said Phing Chendaret, head of the minor crime office at the Siem Reap provincial police station.