PHNOM PENH —
Three major statues looted from Cambodia during its civil war were returned to Phnom Penh in an official ceremony Tuesday.
All three had been returned from collections in the United States. Cabinet Minister Sok An thanked US officials for their support in securing the return of the statues.
“In a long 40-year journey, surviving civil wars, looting, smuggling and traveling the world, these three have now regained their freedom and returned home,” he said at the ceremony.
The statues—called Duryodhana, Bhima and Balaram—were thought to have been looted from the Koh Ker temple complex in Siem Reap province during the upheaval of the Khmer Rouge period.
“Repatriation of these statutes demonstrates strengthening commitment of America’s collectors and institutions to adhere to the highest legal and ethical standards in acquiring objects, and reaffirms the US’s pledge that our country will not serve as a safe heaven of illegally acquired arts and antiquities,” Jeff Daigle, the US Embassy’s deputy chief of mission, said Tuesday. “The US’s dedication to working with Cambodia to safeguard the kingdom’s unique historical and cultural legacies is longstanding.”