Four monks from three separate pagodas in Kompong Cham province, including two chief monks, were arrested and defrocked on Saturday morning after they snuck out of their pagoda in civilian clothes and spent Friday night carousing at the Tida Karaoke Club in Choeung Prey district, according to district police chief Prak Sokun.
Police arrested Lach Hean, 42, a monk at Raksmey Sangke pagoda in Prey Chhor district, and Hem Panha, 24, a monk at Prek Koy pagoda in Kang Meas district, at the club at about 1 a.m. on Saturday morning after receiving a tip from nearby residents that a group of monks had entered the club, Mr. Sokun said Sunday.
“When we checked on that club, we arrested two monks, but other monks fled into the forest,” he said.
Inside a car parked outside the club, police found monks’ robes stuffed inside a trash bag and a backpack, along with a plastic bag full of beer cans.
Police caught up with the other two monks—Chorn Sokleang, 24, the chief monk of Kanleng Run pagoda in Kang Meas district, and Kang Saroeun, 43, chief monk at Raksmey Sangke pagoda—at 8 a.m. as they hid in a nearby forest.
Srey Sopheak, provincial director of cults and religion, said the monks had all been defrocked and would not be allowed to take vows again.
“Those monks defrocked themselves, because they changed out of their monk robes and went into the nightclub,” he said.
He said the monks were being detained at the district monk office while religious officials decided if they merited further punishment.