Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kampot pagoda jewels stolen

Kampot pagoda jewels stolen

A Prey Tom pagoda monk thumbprints a document after giving a statement to authorities yesterday in Kampot’s Teuk Chhou district after a valuable urn was stolen.
A Prey Tom pagoda monk thumbprints a document after giving a statement to authorities yesterday in Kampot’s Teuk Chhou district after a valuable urn was stolen. Photo supplied

Kampot pagoda jewels stolen

Police in Kampot province are searching for six men accused of stealing a gold, jewel-encrusted ornament from the top of a reliquary urn at a pagoda in Teuk Chhou district’s Prey Khmum commune on Tuesday night.

Chhun Chheun, a Teuk Chhou district police officer, said yesterday that the six suspects drove a car onto the pagoda grounds at about 10:15pm on Tuesday, with one of the robbers calling out to monks for help, saying there were people following them who wanted to hurt them.

“They called for help and also told the monks to turn off the light in the pagoda. Then they started the robbery; that’s when the monks knew they were robbers, but it was too late to turn the light back on because one of the robbers went to stand guard near the light pole,” he said.

Only one monk was near the pole, Chheun said; the pagoda’s other monks were too frightened to stop the suspects from entering the room containing the urn – said to contain the bones of the Buddha – and taking the valuables away.

“The head of the pagoda was not staying in his room, because he had gone to Kampong Cham province, but he returned to the pagoda when he was informed of the robbery,” Chheun said, adding that officers were currently guarding the pagoda.

“There are more valuables in the pagoda, but we do not know how much.”

Prey Khmum commune police chief Chan Dara said yesterday that one of the suspects was a former monk in the pagoda who had resigned many years ago, but had a good relationship with the head abbot.

“The urn was made of gold, and there were about 200 small diamonds and four big diamonds, which are worth more than $30,000,” Dara said.

“The former chief monk received the urn from his friend in Sri Lanka, and he left it in the pagoda after he went to live in America.”

Dara added that the abbot and villagers who knew of the urn had always avoided discussing it out of fear for its safety.

“We were worried about something bad happening to this thing, and now it’s been stolen,” he said, adding that while the robbers did not brandish any guns, he suspected they were armed.

“The chief monk, Choub Sopheap, is trying to convince one of the robbers, who was a former monk in the pagoda, to return [it] to him, and [Sopheap] believes 100 per cent that the robber will bring it back,” Dara said.

Oung Vibol, a spokesman for the Ministry of Cult and Religions, referred questions on the matter to spokesman Seng Somony, who could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway