Villagers Protest Over Monk Accused of Rape

More than 130 villagers in Ban­teay Meanchey province’s O’Chrou district demonstrated Thursday to de­mand that a chief monk be de­frock­ed and punished for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl earlier this month, officials said Sunday.

Villagers holding placards in Poi­pet commune’s O’Russei village pro­test­ed in front of the village pagoda to demand that 48-year-old chief monk Kim Vongvichea, who they also accused of keeping a 22-year-old mistress, be tried in court and pun­ished, district police chief Nuth Ly said.

“We have complaints,” he said. “In one case, he is accused of raping a girl and in another of having a mistress. We have all the evidence. Vil­lagers also accuse him of drinking alcohol and eating dog meat.”

The monk, who has since been trans­ferred to another pagoda, al­legedly raped the girl in the evening of March 5. The victim then complained to police, he said.

The villagers also protested in front of the home of village chief So Moeun, who had taken the chief monk’s side, demanding that he be fired too, Nuth Ly said.

O’Chrou District Governor Keo Sen said he was aware of the problems but could not interfere in religious matters.

“The monk has problems,” he said. “But it’s up to the provincial chief monk and religious officials to de­cide. We don’t want to poke our hands in it.”

Rather than be defrocked, Kim Vong­vichea was transferred to another pagoda by the provincial chief monk, Keo Sen said.

“In [the provincial chief monk’s] view, there is not enough evidence to [defrock] the monk.”

Banteay Meanchey’s deputy chief monk Nan Sochenda said prov­in­cial monks and religious officials had de­cided on March 17 to re­move Kim Von­vichea from the O’Russei village pagoda and to put him on probation.

“We decided not to defrock him be­cause there is no real and clear ev­i­­de­nce and witnesses, and no clear documents,” Nan Sochenda said. “The story is finished now. It is the problem of a group of individuals who created it.”

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Po­lice Chief Chhoeung Sokhom said the case has been forwarded to the pro­v­incial court.

“Now we are waiting for a decision from the court,” he said. “The vil­lagers want the monk to be de­frocked and executed,” he added.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced four men to one year each in prison on Thursday af­ter they were found guilty of posing as Buddhist monks to receive alms from the public, deputy municipal court prosecutor Ngeth Sarath said.

Arrested in the capital in Decem­ber, the four—Hun Da, 36, Phan So­phy, 22, Ny Nun, 20 and Hun No­eun, 20, from Prey Veng province—were charged with fraud.

“They said they did it because they are very poor,” Ngeth Sarath said Fri­day. “But they looked energetic enough to till the soil.”



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