About 250 law enforcement officials swept through the area around Angkor Thom, in Siem Reap province’s Angkor temple complex, on Tuesday evening hunting for suspected looters.
Tan Chay, Siem Reap’s chief of Heritage Police, said Thursday that Soeun Rin, 34, was arrested with an ancient vase in his possession. Three suspected accomplices have not been caught.
Tan Chay said police in the temple complex saw four men being dropped off from a Toyota Camry near Angkor Thom at around 6:30 pm. The officers pursued the vehicle, which sped off after the men got out, but were unable to catch it. About 200 provincial policemen and 50 military policemen were then deployed to comb the roughly 2 square km of forested area near the temple, he said.
“The forest is very dense, so it was difficult for police to find them,” he said.
Siem Reap Prosecutor So Vat said Soeun Rin was charged Tuesday by the provincial court with stealing artifacts.
Uong Von, director of the Heritage Department at the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture, said Thursday that the looting of archeological sites has declined due to tighter policing.
In December, two men were arrested in Battambang province’s Kors Kralor district and charged with illegally excavating artifacts from an ancient burial site.