Ceremony Aims to Appease Disturbed Spirits

A Buddhist ceremony was held Saturday in Takeo province to appease spirits disturbed when a cemetery was dug up two weeks ago by treasure seekers looking for an alleged Khmer Rouge gold stash, provincial officials said Sunday.

Takeo Governor Kep Chuk Te­ma said that the ceremony involv­ed about 400 local people and relatives of those buried at the desecrated cemetery in Chhey Teal village. “The ceremony was held to ask for a pardon from the dead buried at the cemetery as well as my responsibility for allowing this thing to happen in the province.”

Laborers guarded by armed soldiers dug furiously at night about two weeks ago in search of some 100 kg of gold believed bur­ied by jailed Khmer Rouge commander Ta Mok, but nothing of value was found.

“Some families of the dead were angry with the diggers and wanted to complain to the courts…but after I talked to them at the ceremony they understood and calmed down,” Kep Chuk Te­ma added.

Some said the excavations were led by an assistant of Ta Mok, but Kep Chuk Tema and oth­ers said the treasure hunters were local military commanders working for a senior RCAF official.

“That RCAF official is higher than a one-star general…he is not a former Khmer Rouge general, said Kep Chuk Tema.

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