Rowdy Monks Arrested and Defrocked After Raid on Pagoda

Police in Siem Reap City raided the room of an unruly monk on Thursday night and made six arrests after finding him and another monk drinking with two pagoda boys and two women amid evidence of drug use and sexual activity, officials said.

Following a tip-off at about 11 p.m. on Thursday night, provincial anti-drug police and local authorities swooped in on 36-year-old monk Pich David’s quarters at the Pur Langka pagoda in Slakram commune, said commune police chief Khiev Sort.

“The monk had been under suspicion for some time, as he always argued with the chief monk and did not follow the Buddhist doctrine,” Mr. Sort said, adding that police met with resistance when they attempted to enter the room.

“When we entered the room we found alcohol, some condoms and a pipe for smoking ‘ice’ [crystal methamphetamine],” he said.

Chan Bunna, a 19-year-old monk, and pagoda residents In Bros, 30, and Huot Chantra, 21, were also arrested alongside two female market vendors, Mao Sokheng, 27, and Sun Sreyka, 21, all of whom were brought in for drug testing.

Provincial anti-drug police chief Oum Sa Ath said that only two of the suspects, Chan Bunna and In Bros, tested positive for methamphetamine. After questioning the men, police were led to their supplier, 29-year-old Chan Somean, who they arrested in Slakram commune on Saturday afternoon.

All of the suspects were sent to the provincial court, according to deputy prosecutor Samrith Sokhon, who said Pich David and Huot Chantra were charged with using violence against police officers. The two female suspects were cleared of the same charges and have been released, he said.

Mr. Sa Ath confirmed Sunday evening that the court had charged In Bros and Chan Bunna with drug use, while Chan Somean was charged with trafficking illegal substances.

Pur Lanka pagoda’s chief monk Keo Khouy said Sunday that Pich David and Chan Bunna had already been defrocked. He said this was the second time the elder monk had been thrown out of the pagoda.

“Pich David was expelled in 2012 for bad behavior but we allowed him to return in 2013 after he pleaded with the pagoda authorities to come back and promised to adhere to the Buddhist doctrine and to follow the rules of the pagoda,” he said.

Keo Khouy said there had been a number of complaints in recent months by fellow monks upset at his attitude and by neighboring villagers over his rowdy late-night activities, which led pagoda authorities to involve the police.

Earlier this month, the chief monk at a pagoda in Kompong Speu province was defrocked after being caught drinking with police officers at a karaoke parlor in Kandal province.

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