Banteay Meanchey provincial police on Monday said that a military official arrested by Thai border police as he attempted to transport three statues across the border had likely purchased the statues from a souvenir shop in Siem Reap province.
Soeun Oeun, 49—an intelligence officer from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Region 5 in Battambang province—was arrested on Saturday after crossing through the Boeung Trakuon border checkpoint in O’Chrou district.
Ath Khem, Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief, said that Mr. Oeun produced a receipt from the souvenir shop as proof that the statues are not ancient relics.
“He showed his invoice from the shop where he bought them,” Brigadier General Khem said Monday, noting that his officers had corroborated the claim with officers in Siem Reap province.
However, Brig. Gen. Khem said that Thai authorities would not allow Cambodian authorities to access the statues to verify Mr. Oeun’s claims and that it would be up to the provincial court to decide how to move forward.
“This case will be sent to the court tomorrow to see if these statues are souvenirs,” he said.