Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court yesterday charged five people who posed as monks to collect money from the public in Prey Nop district on Saturday.
Court spokesman Lim Bun Heng identified the accused as Sok Reaksmey, 36, Yi Pheak, 27, Khat Tith, 24, Souv Nith, 16, and Meas Sira, 17.
He said the five are charged with fraud for posing as monks and also for wearing monk robes without being ordained.
Mr Bun Heng added that the accused were arrested in a guesthouse in the district and face up to three years in jail and a fine of up to about $1,496 each if convicted.
“We decided to charge them with unauthorised wearing of Buddhist monk robes and also fraud,” he added.
Major General Chuon Narin, provincial police chief, said yesterday that district police arrested the five men on Saturday afternoon at the guesthouse in O’Oknha Heng commune following a complaint that they were using drugs.
Colonel Huor Yai, Prey Nop district police chief, said the accused were arrested following a complaint from the guesthouse owner that he suspected that five monks staying in a room were smoking drugs.
“Police officers raided the guesthouse and found drug paraphernalia in the room,” he said. “During their interrogations, all five admitted that they are not real monks.”
Captain Ke Sokhorn, district deputy penal police chief, said that after their arrests all five were sent to the provincial police headquarters for questioning on Sunday.
Khim Sorn, chief of the secretariat of Cambodian Mohanikaya Order, yesterday said that the monkhood’s supreme sangha council has set strict rules and only those who are ordained can wear robes.
He said that there have been several cases where people who posed as monks were cautioned by police and the monkhood.
Venerable Sorn noted that despite being cautioned some of them commit the crime again.
“All monk authorities and police should cooperate with each other to stop people who pose as monks because their actions tarnish the monkhood’s reputation,” he said.