Buddhist Abbot Strangled to Death in Apparent Pagoda Feud

The abbot of Srah Raing pagoda in Banteay Meanchey province was strangled to death over the weekend and three junior Buddhist monks at the temple have been held for questioning, military police said yesterday.

Abbot Soeng Huot, 38, was found face down on the floor when authorities forced open the door of his residence on Sunday evening inside the pagoda compound located in Mongkol Borei district, deputy commander of the provincial military police Ork Borin said yesterday.

Concerned by the uncustomary absence of the chief monk for two days, the pagoda’s Buddhist nuns and religious layman believed the abbot had left the temple as his residence was locked from the outside, said Mr Borin, adding that initial concern gave way to suspicion which prompted the forced entry of the residence and the discovery of the body.

Three monks were detained for questioning by the military police on Sunday and remain in custody of the district’s most senior monk, said Mr Borin, adding that the three gave conflicting statements regarding their last meeting with abbot just prior to his killing.

“Based on most of the evidence collected so far, the killing of this monk stemmed from personal revenge,” Mr Borin said.

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said the killing appeared to have been the result of an internal dispute between monks at the pagoda.

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