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Thai Gets 3-Month Sentence After Temple Insult

A Thai man accused of insulting the national symbol of Angkor Wat temple received a three-month jail sentence on Tuesday, for living in Cambodia without a visa.

Salavout Khamsan, 39, was originally arrested by local police for carving an image of Angkor Wat in concrete in front of a public toilet in the border town of Poipet. The courts could not find a legal article under which to charge him for that, however.

“I sentenced the Thai national Salavout Khamsan to three months in prison for illegally entering Cambodia,” Tous Sam Ath, the provincial court judge, told VOA Khmer. “I dropped charges against [him] for insulting Angkor Wat because there is no offense with which we can charge him.”

Soum Chan Kea, Banteay Meanchey coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the sentence was a fair warning, but he felt “very sorry” the charge of insult had to be dropped.

To put an image of the temple in front of a toilet was “incitement,” he said, as well as “racial discrimination.”

Thai Embassy officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.