Guard Convicted of Oudong Relic Theft Dies

Pha Sokhem, the former chief security guard who, along with three other guards and a farmer, was sentenced last month to seven years in prison for stealing Buddhist relics from a stupa atop Oudong Mountain, died on Saturday at age 60.

His son, Pha Sodina, confirmed that his father, who had recently been diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer, passed away at 4:50 p.m. at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital.

“My father had high blood pressure and liver cirrhosis while he was alive…but after he was imprisoned for more than a year, he did not get any treatment,” said Mr. Sodina.

“If he had not been imprisoned, he could have got treatment at home and my family could have provided enough care for him and we could have brought him for treatment in Thailand or Vietnam so he might have lived longer than this.”

Vann Boeung, Prek Pnov commune police chief, confirmed Pha Sokhem’s death. During their trial in August, all four guards maintained their innocence, while Keo Reaksmey, the farmer, said he had committed the crime alone.

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