Court Complaint Lodged Against NZ Tourist

Siem Reap heritage protection police chief Man Chhoeun on Monday filed a court complaint against the New Zealand tourist who admitted to breaking a Buddha statue earlier this month in the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Willemijn Vermaat, 40, a Dutch national who resides in New Zealand, said last week that she broke the statue after a voice in her head told her the Bayon temple, which is dedicated to Buddha, in fact belongs to the Sumerian goddess Inana.

Mr. Chhoeun said that he submitted the complaint to Siem Reap provincial prosecutor Koeut Vannareth after reading the confession of Ms. Vermaat, who has since returned to New Zealand, on the news website stuff.co.nz.

“We have already filed a complaint with the provincial court prosecutor, accusing the New Zealand woman of destroying the statue, as she confessed through the web- site that she did,” Mr. Chhoeun explained. “We requested that the court deal with the woman according to the law.”

Ms. Vermaat admitted in an October 15 news article that she broke the statue after hearing a voice.

“I was told I had to move the Buddha but I said I didn’t want to as it’s such a great religion and nothing to make fun of,” she told stuff.co.nz.

“So I tried to sit on his lap but that didn’t work so I pushed him out, and I was apologizing to him, but that must have been when I broke it.”

Mr. Vannareth, the prosecutor, confirmed Tuesday he had received the complaint and said he was now compiling a case.

Apsara Authority deputy director Im Sok Rithy said that the heritage authorities were working with other officials to bring Ms. Vermaat to justice.

“We are working with national and international lawyers to prepare a document to take action on this case,” he said.

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