Australian Allegedly Stole Angkor Stones

An Australian tourist was ar­rested and sent to Siem Reap Pro­vincial Court on Friday for al­legedly stealing three pieces of carved stone from the temples of Ang­kor, police and court officials said Sunday.

Steven Doyle, 36, was detained Fri­day morning at the City Ang­kor Hotel after a cleaner found the three pieces of stonework in his room, said Heritage Police Chief Tan Chay.

Tourists taking pieces of stone from the temples have long been a problem, but Doyle’s case is particularly serious, Tan Chay said.

“In the past, people would take a small piece…and we would not ar­rest them, only confiscate [the stone],” Tan Chay said. “But this man took pieces the size of his thigh.”

Doyle initially claimed that he pur­­chased the 30 kg of sculpted stones from a Cambodian, Tan Chay said. Police did not believe him, and after further questioning, Doyle confessed, he added.

“In fact, he stole these stones from Angkor Wat and Bayon temple,” Tan Chay said, adding that he picked the stonework off the ground rather than chiseling it off a temple.

Chao Sithol, Heritage Police ju­dicial bureau chief, said the case was now in the hands of the court.

Provincial Prosecutor So Vat said Doyle has not been charged be­­cause he arrived at the court too late in the day Friday to properly quest­ion him. “We only confiscated his passport and have al­lowed him to stay in his hotel room until the hearing [today],” So Vat said.

On Sunday, a receptionist at the City Angkor Hotel said that Doyle had already checked out.

Soeung Kong, a deputy director-gen­eral of the Apsara Au­thor­ity—the gov­ernment agency ma­n­aging Ang­kor park, said Sun­day that tour­ists have to be made bet­ter aware that there are serious legal consequences to taking anything from the temples.

“If Steven Doyle took the pieces of stone, then he will be pun­ished under state law,” he said.

The Australian Embassy de­clined comment.


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