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Police File Charges Against Woman for Temple Vandalism

A tourist poses for photographs in the Bayon Temple in the northern province of Siem Reap, file photo.

Cambodia’s Heritage Police have filed a complaint in Siem Reap provincial court to investigate a foreign woman accused of toppling a statue inside the famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

Police say that on Oct. 9, Willemijn Vermaat, 40, spent the night in the Bayon Temple illegally and subsequently knocked over a 12th-century statue there.

Vermaat, who is Dutch and lives in New Zealand, could face up to eight years in jail for the crime, though she is believed to have left the country.

In an interview with a New Zealand news website, Vermaat admitted to being in the temple and pushing on the statue, a restored piece from the era of famed king Jayavarman VII. “That must have been when I broke it,” she said, according to the website,