Municipal Court Questions Monks Over Stabbing Death at Pagoda

Two monks appeared Monday before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning in relation to the stabbing death of senior Wat Samakki Raingsey monk Thach Khan allegedly by a junior member of the pagoda in January.

Chan Sopheak, 18, is accused of murdering Thach Khan, the pagoda’s second deputy chief monk, with a knife during an argument at the pagoda in Meanchey district on January 12.

On Monday, the victim’s cousin, 34-year-old Thach Sothon, who is also a monk at Wat Samakki Raingsey but did not witness the incident, appeared before the municipal court as civil party to the case.

Contacted by telephone afterward, Thach Sothon said that the two monks had never had any issues before Thach Khan called the younger monk in for a talk after he apparently tore down an official notice banning a lay priest—who was accused of using the pagoda’s name to raise money for himself—from entering the pagoda.

“It is normal for a deputy chief monk to call in monks and advise them when they have done something wrong,” he said.

Thach Sothon said he also called on the court to fast-track the case in order to find the justice for his cousin—who he believed was the victim of a larger plot—and asked for $20,000 in compensation.

“I demanded compensation of $20,000 in order to use this money for building a stupa for keeping his ashes,” Thach Sothon said.

“There could be someone behind this because I think the monk alone could not do this; he is still young and he had just come to stay [at the pagoda] recently,” he added.

Another monk from the pagoda, 20-year-old Thach Vanna, who is no relation to the victim, appeared at the court Monday as a witness. He said after his questioning that he did not see the incident play out, but knew that the monks had argued beforehand.

“I ran out and saw deputy chief monk Thach Khan; he was lying on the ground and he was bleeding,” Thach Vanna said he had told the court.

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