Cambodia

US Investigator Gathering Evidence for Return of Statues

U.S. prosecutors and the Cambodian government say the 1,000-year-old sandstone statue, The Mahabharata, was looted from the temple of Prasat Chen in the 1960s or 1970s and should be repatriated.  U.S. prosecutors and the Cambodian government say the 1,000-year-old sandstone statue, The Mahabharata, was looted from the temple of Prasat Chen in the 1960s or 1970s and should be repatriated.
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U.S. prosecutors and the Cambodian government say the 1,000-year-old sandstone statue, The Mahabharata, was looted from the temple of Prasat Chen in the 1960s or 1970s and should be repatriated.
U.S. prosecutors and the Cambodian government say the 1,000-year-old sandstone statue, The Mahabharata, was looted from the temple of Prasat Chen in the 1960s or 1970s and should be repatriated.
Kong SothanarithVOA Khmer
PHNOM PENH - A US attorney is currently in Siem Reap province searching for evidence that could help Cambodia make a claim to have a statue returned from the the American auction house Sotheby’s, officials said Wednesday.

Assistant US Attorney Sharon Levin, from the Department of Justice, is looking for evidence at the Koh Ker temple, where two statues where allegedly stolen and eventually sold, officials said.

One statue resides at the Norton Simon Museum in California, while the other, which made it to the hands of a private collector, is currently held by Sotheby’s.

Cambodia is working with the US Department of Justice to have the Sotheby’s statue seized and returned to Cambodia. Cambodian officials have said they would like to see the Norton Simon statue returned as well, though there has been no legal action taken to that end so far.

The two large statues were temple guardians, and Cambodia says they were taken during the the upheaval of the 1970s, a claim that Sotheby’s has said lacks evidence.

Sotheby’s argues that the statue it is trying to auction could have been taken from Cambodia at any time, an important distinction because international law would allow the trafficking of the statues if they were stolen before Cambodia nationalized its assets, including artwork. 

Government spokesman Ek Tha told reporters that Levin’s current investigation could help prove the statues were stolen in the 1970s.

US Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh confirmed Levin’s trip, but declined to comment further. Levin is expected to depart Cambodia on Thursday.
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Yearlong Political Deadlock Endsi
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22 July 2014
Cambodia’s political deadlock has ended. For nearly a year, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join the government, calling for electoral reforms in a system it says was deeply flawed. Following nearly five hours of meetings between top opposition officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen, that deadlock has ended. The two sides finally reached agreement on a formula for selecting the National Election Committee, which the Rescue Party has said was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy emerged from talks Tuesday smiling and shaking hands. “Victory,” Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting. “You can all applaud.” (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)

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