Sihanoukville: What a jar! Authorities arrested a suspect who hid artifacts found from the seabed off Sihanoukville at 9 pm on 27.09.2020.
The Sihanoukville Provincial Armed Forces coordinated the procedure by Mr. Huot Vichet, Deputy Prosecutor Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court and Mr. But Bopha, Director of the Provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts, to arrest a suspect who hid old ceramics found from the seabed (*probably from an old shipwreck) at Perroyal in Group 31, Village 3, Sangkat No. 3.
The suspect was named Le Wang Huon, male, 42 years old, Vietnamese. 281 small and large jugs/pots were seized. The sspect and exhibits are currently being kept at the Sihanoukville Provincial Military Command for further proceedings. KPSBN
UPDATE: Mr. But Bopha, Director of the Department of Culture and Fine Arts of Preah Sihanouk Province, finally confirmed that the 281 small and large exhibits are ancient artifacts made sometime between the 15th-17th centuries.
According to the latest report, the Vietnamese man is not a fisherman. According to his confession, he said that he had hired a fisherman to explore the seabed three months ago, which uncovered the first 10 items. The point of the seabed where the artifacts were found is 200 meters from Koh Russey and at 7 meters depth.
*In reply to pedants who have been in touch saying that these were ‘salvaged’ rather than ‘looted’, the THE PROTECTION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE law (1996) is quite clear:
For the purposes of this law, cultural property is considered to be any work produced by human agency and any natural phenomenon of a scientific, historic, artistic or religious nature which bears witness to a certain stage in the development of a civilization or of the natural world and whose protection is in the public interest.
No one may carry out excavations or surveys, on land or under water, for the purpose of bringing to light cultural property likely to be of relevance to the study of prehistory, history, archaeology, ethnology, paleontology or other branches of science dealing with the past or of human sciences in general, without the prior authorization of the competent authority.