A military official was arrested in Thailand on Saturday after smuggling three statues across the border from Banteay Meanchey province in his car, officials said Sunday.
Prak Sa, chief of the Boeung Trakuon border checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district, said that Soeun Oeun, 49—an intelligence officer from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Region 5 in Battambang province—was arrested at about 5 p.m., just after passing through screening on the Cambodian side of the checkpoint.
“We were careless with checking his car, in which he had hidden three ancient statues, but he was arrested by Thai border police,” Mr. Sa said. He said Mr. Oeun regularly went through the checkpoint in O’Beichoan commune to purchase food or gasoline in Thailand.
“The suspect goes back and forth every day,” he said, adding that Cambodian border police had never had reason to suspect nefarious activity.
Mr. Sa said Thai authorities searched Mr. Oeun’s car on their side of the checkpoint and discovered the statues, which they seized. Thai border police handed Mr. Oeun and his vehicle over to their Cambodian counterparts on Saturday night, but kept the statues.
“Tomorrow [Monday] we will continue to work on this case to retake the three statues for the suspect’s court case,” Mr. Sa said. “Thai police did not allow our police to touch those statues, so we do not know if they are real or fake statues.”
Nhen Lanh, deputy chief of the Boeung Trakuon checkpoint, said Mr. Oeun was being held at the Banteay Meanchey provincial police headquarters and was expected to appear in court Monday.