Daun Penh district police in Phnom Penh on Tuesday busted five men for allegedly pretending to be Buddhist monks in order to raise money for their drug habits.
Captain Neng Vuthy, a district police officer, identified the suspects as 20-year old Rath Chhun, 28-year-old Hoeung Horn, 28-year-old Vann Veasna, 20-year-old Phat Tola and 18-year-old Kim Limorn.
Cap Vuthy noted that all five suspects hailed from outside of Phnom Penh.
He said that every morning the suspects donned robes and begged for money near markets and restaurants throughout the capital.
Cap Vuthy alleged that the money was divided at the end of the day to buy drugs and alcohol.
He added that the five were spotted by villagers who reported their activities to police.
Cap Vuthy said monks worked with police to inspect the suspects at about 8.30am on Tuesday as they were collecting money in Phsar Kandal market.
He said that the suspects were unable to produce IDs and documents to support their claims of being in the monkhood.
They were then arrested by police and defrocked, Cap Vuthy said. He added that following the arrests, police confiscated Buddhist robes, as well as other monk-related materials and money from them.
Cap Vuthy noted that the suspects tested positive for drug use.
Another police officer with the district police said that the suspects remain in custody.
“In this case, they’re accused by police of drug use and unauthorised use of Buddhist robes,” the officer said. “If convicted, they face up to six months in jail.”
The officer added that the suspects will be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court today.