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Fake Monks Arrested Then Released

Pav Suy / Khmer Times Share:
The two men who were passing themselves off as monks. Supplied

The Pursat provincial religious department and police on Monday arrested two men who were impersonating monks and relentlessly collecting donations from residents at Pursat town.
Pursat town police chief Chhorn Rith said police made the arrest after a complaint filed by residents. The pair, identified as Soung Muth, 48, and Kong Bora, 34, were eventually released with only a warning.
“They were wandering around collecting money. After the arrest, they were sent to the provincial department of religion for them to take action,” he said, declining to comment further as he was not involved in the arrest.
Provincial deputy police chief Keo Sokunthea said the two men were let off with a warning in line with orders from the provincial governor.
“After the provincial religious department had them remove the monk attire, they were sent to our office. We detained them overnight at the police headquarters,” he said.
“Following orders from the provincial governor, we decided not to punish them. We only educated them and made them sign a contract promising not to repeat the act and let them go yesterday [Tuesday].”
He said their motives were likely financial as police found neither one to be suffering from a mental illness, but noted that they were both living in poverty.
He added that both men were also found in possession of items commonly used by monks like robes, umbrellas and bags.
Seng Somony, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Cults and Religion, said that ordinarily, people found committing the same crime would face legal action but because of the tolerance of provincial authorities, they were let off with just a warning.
“We always lecture the provincial department on how to deal with such a problem,” he said. “The department will reprimand them before sending them to the authorities to take legal action.
“If we use article 194, they would face a monetary fine and a criminal case will be filed as well.
“However, so far because of tolerance we only educate them and let them go because we know that in some cases, they are not mentally fit or they are just desperately poor, that’s why they do that,” he added.
Last year, five fake monks were charged with fraud after they were found to be harassing locals in Kandal province for donations.

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