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Police seize ancient Khmer statues

Five ancient Khmer statues, reportedly at least 1,200 years old, are seized from smugglers by Sa Kaew police yesterday.

Police yesterday announced that they had seized five ancient Khmer sandstone statues, reportedly at least 1,200 years old, from smugglers while they were trying to move the items across the border into Sa Kaew.

Following an investigation into statue smuggling across the border at Tambon Tha Kham of Aranyaprathet district, police and an Army team patrolled the area early yesterday morning until they spotted a suspicious pick-up truck near Wat Wang Mon and tried to stop it for a search. The truck sped away toward Aranyaprathet district, but police stopped the truck after a brief chase, arrested driver Panupong Sukkho, 40, and discovered the five statues in fertiliser sacks in the truck. It was suspected that the five statues were about 1,200-2,000 years old.

Panupong told police that he took the statues from a Cambodian to deliver to a Bangkok investor, who planned to sell them to tourists. He claimed the statues were replicas and made to look ancient, in order to dupe antique-collecting foreigners.

Police sent Panupong and the statues to the Aranyaprathet Customs officials to proceed with legal actions and the statues would be sent for inspection by the Fine Arts Department's Office of Archaeology.


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