Thailand to return some of Cambodia’s stolen treasures

A number of Khmer antiquities recovered from the treasure trove of a disgraced Thai police official will be returned to Cambodia.

A small number of the hundreds of Buddhist and Hindu objects discovered in the collection of Pongpat Chayaphan, the former head of the Central Investigation Bureau, will be repatriated to Cambodia after they were proven to be stolen.

Months after requesting the looted objects be returned, a Cambodian foreign ministry representative said Friday that 16 unspecified objects would be returned, with another 20 under consideration, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodia has sought the return of its treasures which were stolen and sold to art collectors around the world.

Centuries of invaluable Khmer art were chopped into pieces in a handful of years by those who had dismantled the nation’s culture. For nearly 30 years, the Khmer Rouge and other armed factions sought to finance their ongoing conflict by looting Khmer temples and selling them to international art dealers, according to Tess Davis of Heritage Watch in Cambodia.

In December, following Pongpat’s ouster on corruption charges, officials said they would return 50 artifacts identified as “priceless” discovered in a secret vault to their places of origin, The Nation reported.

Photo: Thai PBS


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