Statue Smashed by Tourist Returned to Bayon Temple

The Apsara Authority on Thursday returned a statue of the Buddha to its place in Bayon temple at the Angkor Archaeological Park after a tourist smashed it earlier this month.

The woman, Willemijn Vermaat, a Dutch national living in New Zealand, told local media in New Zealand that a voice in her head told her to break the statue because it was in a temple dedicated to the wrong deity. 

After being restored at the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum, the statue was replaced inside the temple on Thursday in a Buddhist ceremony during which eight monks chanted blessings, according to Im Sok Rithy, deputy director of the Apsara Authority.

Mr. Sok Rithy emphasized that, although Ms. Vermaat has returned to New Zealand, authorities here are determined to prosecute her for damaging the statue.

“We are working with lawyers to take action in this case, and we will not allow this woman to escape from the net of the law because this is a big problem,” Mr. Sok Rithy said.

Ms. Vermaat managed to spend the night of October 10 alone in Bayon temple, sparking fears that the archaeological park is not well guarded at night.

Man Chhoeun, chief of the provincial heritage protection police, said an additional 333 police officers would be deployed to protect the temples from harm between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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