A man was sent to Siem Reap provincial court Thursday to face charges in a killing and robbery spree that left two motorbike taxi drivers dead and a third seriously injured—all while the attacker dressed in the guise of a monk’s saffron robes, officials said.
Provincial police arrested Prum Sarath, 18, on Tuesday on suspicion of beating and robbing motorbike taxi driver Vann Sath in Siem Reap district’s Slor Kram commune, said provincial penal police officer Doung Sokha.
Dressed as a monk, the suspect flagged down Vann Sath and asked to be taken to a remote area at the outskirts of the Angkor Wat compound, police said. Once there, he beat the driver’s head with a stick he had hidden in his bag, Doung Sokha said. Vann Sath’s shouts drew a crowd of villagers who came running to help, sending the attacker fleeing to the forest.
Police searched for an hour before apprehending the suspect, who had abandoned his robes and stripped to his underwear.
Vann Sath is recovering in a district hospital. The attacker’s previous victims were not so lucky, police said.
Police believe Prum Sarath lured two motorbike taxi drivers on similar pretenses on July 19 and July 28, Doung Sokha said. He reportedly beat both drivers to death with sticks before abandoning their bodies in the remote regions of the Angkor Wat grounds, changing his clothes and escaping on their motorbikes, which he later sold in Phnom Penh, the officer said.
Prum Sarath was a monk in Battambang province for two years before quitting the monastery, police said.
The Ministry of Cult and Religion is considering drafting a regulation that would penalize people who wear monks’ robes for personal gain, ministry Secretary of State Chhorm Eam said Thursday.
“Some people are dressing as monks and trying to make profit by committing bad deeds,” he said. “It badly affects the dignity of the religion.”