Local rights group Adhoc and a Khmer Krom organization filed a complaint at Takeo Provincial Court on Tuesday seeking legal action against unidentified bodyguards for allegedly kidnapping a Khmer Krom monk who they say was forcibly deported to Vietnam.
The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization and Adhoc filed the complaint on behalf of the monk’s father Tim Treang, alleging that bodyguards abducted his son Tim Sakhorn, chief of Phnom Den pagoda in Kiri Vong district, shortly after he was defrocked on the afternoon of June 30, said Ang Chanrith, executive director of the KKKHRO.
According to a copy of the complaint, Tim Sakhorn was defrocked by monks from Phnom Penh outside his pagoda around 3:40 pm and was subsequently forced into a blue Toyota Camry and driven away.
“Prosecutor, please take appropriate legal action against that unidentified group that kidnapped the monk and search for the monk to return him to the pagoda,” the complaint reads. It also seeks $2,500 in compensation.
The court’s Prosecutor Chey Sophal confirmed that he had received the complaint. “I will order my judicial police officers to conduct an investigation,” he said, adding he did not know where Tim Sakhorn was. “I don’t know the real story yet,” he said.
Officials said last week that Tim Sakhorn had signed an agreement consenting to go to Vietnam of his own volition after he was defrocked on the orders of Great Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong. In a June 16 statement, Tep Vong accused the monk of undermining diplomatic ties between Cambodia and Vietnam by trying to establish a religious movement based out of his pagoda.
Tim Teang, 80, said in a statement Wednesday that he had given the KKKHRO the right to file the complaint on behalf of his missing son.
Ang Chanrith said he could not confirm who the bodyguards were or who had sent them to take Tim Sakhorn. “They wore bodyguard uniforms and cooperated with Takeo provincial police officers,” he claimed.
Ang Chanrith called upon the prosecutor and provincial police to cooperate in finding the missing monk and arrest those who abducted him.
Deputy Provincial Police Chief Suon Phon said that he had searched Tim Sakhorn’s pagoda after the defrocking, but denied that his police officers were involved in taking the monk away.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said the ministry would comply with the court’s verdict.
He also reiterated that Tim Sakhorn had voluntarily requested to go to Vietnam and said he was taken there by Cambodian authorities.
“We fulfilled [Tim Sakhorn’s] request,” he said. “The public authorities served a citizen, but people claim that we are wrong, [and] we do not know what to do.”