Men arrested for posing as monks

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Five men posing as monks in a scam designed to collect money appear at Preah Sihanouk provincial court on Monday. POLICE

Five men appeared at Preah Sihanouk provincial court on Monday charged with posing as monks in a scam designed to collect money for alcohol and drugs.

Prey Nop district police chief Huor Yai told The Post that the suspects were arrested on Sunday evening at a guesthouse in the district’s O’Taporng village.

He named Sok Raksmey, a 36-year-old from Kampot province’s Dang Tong district, as the chief suspect, and Chi Pheak, 27, Khat Yun, 25, Meas Sira, 17, and Sov Mitt, 16, as his four accomplices.

Yai said local police received a tip-off from the guesthouse owner, saying five monks had rented a room for a week, leaving the guesthouse each day and returning in the evening

“After receiving the report, I sent officers to monitor them, and three days later, after collecting enough evidence, authorities decided to arrest them at the guesthouse for questioning."

“After questioning the men in the presence of Prey Nop district deputy monk chief Chhem Yuth, we realised that they were imposters and were cheating people to get money to pay for alcohol and drugs,” Yai said.

Chhem Yuth confirmed to The Post that the men were not ordained monks, adding: “They should be punished because they have cheated people and harmed the state religion.”

The district’s deputy police chief in charge of combating drugs, Chhun Ratanak, said authorities ordered the men to disrobe before they were brought for urine tests after drug paraphernalia was discovered at the guesthouse.

All five suspects’ urine contained traces of illicit substances, according to Ratanak.

“Evidence against the group includes drug consumption devices and five sets of monks’ robes. Each suspect was charged with two counts in relation to posing as a monk – damaging the state religion and fraud. They were sent to Preah Sihanouk provincial court on Monday morning for further procedures,” Ratanak said.

Preah Sihanouk provincial court spokesman Lem Bunheng told The Post on Monday that the suspects had already arrived at court and would be subject to further questioning.