City Official Denies Looting of Island Pagoda

A municipal official denied Buddha images were destroyed or property stolen during the razing last week of an island temple less than a kilometer from the city’s riverfront.

Touch Sarun, governor of Russey Keo district, said Friday images removed from Wat San­tepheap on Yukuntor Island have been stored at the Ministry of Cults and Religion. He added that a generator, bed and other articles taken from the pagoda will be returned by dis­trict police.

The governor’s comments came in response to allegations made last week by island resident Heng Houy, who said she witnessed the temple’s destruction Feb 21. She added that she doubted the government ordered the action as it came without warning and took place at night.

Touch Sarun said the temple’s removal was an official measure and that adequate warning was given. “We an­nounced the temple would be removed three or four times,” he said. “We also is­sued a warning three days be­fore­hand, and the monk agreed with our proposal….The reason we did it during the night was to avoid upsetting passersby who might not understand the situation.”

Municipal officials said last week the temple was destroyed because it blocked the view to the Royal Palace.




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