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Former pagoda chief faces murder charge

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Phorn Pheng after being detained by police. Supplied

A 59-year-old-Buddhist monk, who was the chief of a pagoda in Siem Reap, was arrested and charged yesterday by Siem Reap Provincial Court for involvement in the murder of a 55-year-old man in 2013. He then fled to the monkhood and became the chief of a Buddhist pagoda in province.

Suth Sophal, a police officer with the Provincial Major Crimes Unit in Siem Reap province, said the suspect was identified as the Venerable Phorn Pheng, 59, the chief of Prasath Tramkong Pagoda in Tram Kang village in Chanlak Dai commune in Siem Reap province’s Kralanh district.

He added that the suspect was arrested by police in accordance with the court’s warrant for his arrest on the afternoon of October 17 at the  pagoda. After his arrest, he was defrocked and expelled from the pagoda and the monkhood on the same day. He has now been sent by the court’s investigative judge to prison for further investigation.

“He was a farmer and was also a murderer,” he told Khmer Times.

“He killed a villager in his village in 2013, but has fled from the village to be a monk in order to hide and escape arrest,” he added.

He said that according to a police report, in 2013 Mr Pheng was a farmer living in Mokak village in Tasom commune in Siem Reap province’s Angkor Choum district. He had a wife and three children.

On January 29, 2013, Mr Pheng got into an argument over a land issue with a 55-year-old farmer who lived in the same village. He killed the man with a knife.

After killing the man, Mr Pheng fled and later became a monk in Kralanh district.

After the victim’s family discovered he had become a monk, they reported it to police. He was arrested
on Tuesday.

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