The Kandal Provincial Court (Cambodia) on Thursday sentenced four security guards and a farmer to seven years in prison each for stealing relics of the Buddha from a stupa atop Oudong Mountain in 2013—despite the farmer’s insistence that he carried out the robbery alone.
A sixth man, a moto-taxi driver, was acquitted and walked free Thursday, nearly two years after he and the security guards were jailed.
“Chorm Thai, Sieng Sarin, Pha Sokhem, Ka Sat and Keo Reaksmey are sentenced to seven years each for stealing relics of the Buddha from the stupa,” Presiding Judge Say Samphors Serey announced in court Thursday, adding that the men would also be fined 8 million riel, or about $2,000.
“If all of the defendants do not agree with this verdict, they have a month to appeal, starting from today,” he said.
The security guards—Mr. Thai, Mr. Sarin, Mr. Sat and Mr. Sokhem, the chief of security—were arrested in December 2013 over the theft earlier that month of a golden urn that contained the relics, said to be the hair, teeth and bones of the Buddha.
The guards have since maintained their innocence, and in February last year, police in Takeo province arrested Mr. Reaksmey, the farmer, who confessed to stealing the relics alone. After searching his home in Traing district, police found the relics, along with a number of gold Buddha statues he said he also stole from the mountain.
A facepalm moment for Buddhism
I’m sure the Buddha would have a good laugh at the authorities and the clergy so attached to useless pieces of flesh that they’re keen on locking people up for 7 years for taking them away;
and also would intercede for their mercy