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Court sanctions museum reopening

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
The museum was shut after an explosion in August. Facebook

Siem Reap Provincial Court has reverted its decision to delay the reopening of the Cambodian Landmine Museum after it told museum managers to wait because the court has yet to complete the case against its owners.

“I met with a clerk of Judge Sin Sovannaroth on Monday and he told me to wait,” museum owner Oeun “Akira” Yeak said on Tuesday. “I cannot reopen my museum because the court has not made a decision on it.”

However, court spokesman Yin Srang yesterday said that the judge has sanctioned the reopening of the museum, despite ongoing cases against its owners.

“It is a decision made by the judge,” he said. “I do not have further comment.”

The Cambodian Landmine Museum was shuttered following an explosion in August, when its owner and directors were arrested for lacking permits to store unexploded ordnance and munitions.

Mr Yeak yesterday said the museum will reopen its doors to visitors today.

“According to the court’s decision, we will reopen our museum today at about 8am,” Mr Yeak said.

Mr Yeak and two of the museum’s directors are currently on bail on illegal weapons charges.

Mr Yeak is a former Khmer Rouge child soldier who worked as a deminer and is the museum’s curator. His devotion to demining and care for young victims of landmines garnered him the title CNN Hero by the cable news channel in 2010.

Museum director Heanh Sokunthea yesterday said management had been appealing to the court for months to allow the reopening.

“The reason why the court has allowed this is because the court understands that this museum is open to humanitarian causes and is supported by authorities,” Mr Sokunthea said. “We are happy to reopen. We hope that national and international tourists will visit our museum that will reopen today.”

Ly Thuch, vice president of the Cambodian Mine Action Authority, has been helping Mr Yeak and his colleagues by urging the provincial court to sanction the reopening and have the men acquitted.

Mr Thuch yesterday congratulated Mr Yeak and his colleagues on the court decision.

“We are happy to hear about this good information,” Mr Thuch said. “For this, we thank the Justice Minister and the provincial court for coordinating this process faster.”

He added that he will continue to support the efforts of the museum to help orphans and victims of landmines.

Mr Thuch is also urging the provincial court to drop the charges against all three museum managers.

“I request the court to please help drop their charges,” Mr Thuch said.

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