A senior monk at Takeo’s Bati district pagoda was defrocked and sent to the provincial court after allegedly hitting a 14-year-old monk over the head with a plate during an argument, the district police chief said.
Noun Chhany, 32, who is the second deputy chief monk at Trop Ko pagoda in Trapaing Sap commune’s Trakiet village, allegedly smashed a plate over the head the young monk multiple times Wednesday morning, causing a bleeding head injury, district police chief Sao Saron said.
Saron said he was not clear what exactly started the argument and that police are investigating the incident.
A 40-year-old monk named Mony, who was ordained five years ago at the same pagoda and would only share his first name, said the defrocked monk had been ordained in the pagoda for three years.
“He seems to be aggressive and often physically abuses the young monks in the pagoda, hitting them if they do not do work and shouting at them while they are eating food,” Mony said. “But no one dares to say anything because most of the monks are young.”
The pagoda has 23 monks and 20 of them are aged between 9 to 16, he said.
Before the incident, Mony said, the 14-year-old was having an unrelated argument with another young monk sitting nearby, who he accused of taking his food. Chhany was also there.
“As they kept arguing, the second monk chief did not say anything, but threw the plate toward [the young monk]’s head two times. His head started bleeding,” he recalled.
As the young monk protested that he hadn’t done anything wrong, Chhany allegedly stood up and carried a plate toward him, hitting him directly on the head. “Do you know who I am?” he recalled Chhany saying. “His head was bleeding even more,” he added.
The monk also alleged that Chhany went on to hit the victim’s younger brother two times in his eyes, causing his eye to swell, and then hit a third monk. Neither of the latter people were involved in the original food argument, Mony said.
As the situation unfolded, about 20 young monks watching ran away from the area, as Mony called the commune chief to alert him to what had happened. He asked others to transport the young monk to the hospital, he said. Within an hour Chhany had been defrocked and arrested.
The young monk left the hospital later that day and went to recuperate with his family, Mony said.
Seng Somony, secretary of state for the Ministry of Cults and Religion, could not be reached for comment Thursday.