PHNOM PENH, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of the Supreme Privy Advisory Council to King Norodom Sihamoni, on Monday urged the government to conduct a serious investigation into the theft of Buddha's relics.
"As a Buddhist and a prince, I am extremely sad for the loss of the relics of the Buddha," the prince said in a statement. "I would like to urge the government to take a firm measure in order to find out the perpetrators."
He said Cambodia's late King Norodom Sihanouk had brought the relics (from Sri Lanka) to Cambodia in 1957 to mark the 2,500th anniversary of Buddha's birth.
A golden urn containing what are believed to be relics of the Buddha including hair, teeth and bones was stolen from a mountaintop shrine in the former royal city of Udong in Kandal province last Tuesday, Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, said.
He said the looters targeted the "gold-made urn, not Buddha's relics."
On Sunday, the Kandal Provincial Court charged five guards with aggravated theft for their suspected involvement in stealing the relics of the Buddha.
The whereabouts of the relics remains unknown.
Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister Sok An said Monday that an investigation into this case was underway.
"Now, all the competent authorities are working very actively on this case and when the work is in the process, I don't want to make any comments," he told reporters.
Cambodia is a Buddhist-dominant country, where about 90 percent of the 14.8 million population are Buddhists. According to the figures from the Ministry of Cults and Religion, the country has about 4,400 Buddhist pagodas with more than 50,000 monks.
Late King Norodom Sihanouk moved the relics in 2002 from the capital Phnom Penh to Udong Mountain, some 45 km northwest of Phnom Penh, in an elaborate ceremony, which was attended by tens of thousands of Buddhist holders.
Editor: Mu Xuequan