POLICE in Svay Rieng province’s Romeas Hek district on Friday arrested two people, including a monk, for stealing a stone which villagers say symbolises the commune’s “guardian spirit”.
Chhum Ry, the police chief of Romeas Hek district, said yesterday that the arrests were made after villagers in Andong Por commune complained to the police that a monk and a moto-taxi driver removed the “ancient” stone from its spirit guardian house.
Villagers in Andong Por and neighbouring communes believe the stone holds special protective powers. They often hold ceremonies for the stone, asking the stone’s spirit to bring rain.
Chhum Ry said that the object weighs 41 kilogrammes, is oval-shaped like a crocodile egg, and is clear of engravings or other markings.
“The villagers say this stone is about one hundred years old, because they know the stone was in their village when their parents were young,” he said.
“I informed all local police authorities in the district about the theft, and we were able to arrest [the suspects],” he said, adding that the suspects had taken the stone under the bridge to hide while waiting to sell it.
Both perpetrators have been detained at Svay Rieng provincial prison after appearing at the provincial court on Friday, where they were charged with “stealing the stone of the villages.”
Before his arrest, the accused monk was also taken to the Romeas Hek district monk chief to be defrocked, Chhum Ry added.
The stone was returned to the villagers and has been placed back in the guardian house.