Kiwi tourist smashed Buddha statue in Cambodian temple

The Angkor Wat complex is popular with tourists. Inset, the plinth where the statue stood.
The Angkor Wat complex is popular with tourists. Inset, the plinth where the statue stood.

A NEW Zealand woman accused of destroying a Buddha statue at the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia has admitted doing it because it "didn't belong in the temple".

Willemijn Vermaat, 40, of Wellington, was detained by authorities early on Friday morning but was later released.

Cambodian authorities earlier said there was no direct evidence that Ms Vermaat was responsible for destroying the statue but she confirmed to APNZ today that she had.

The woman reportedly destroyed a Buddha statue at the Bayon temple - an intricately decorated Khmer shrine, believed to have been built in the late 12th century.

Ms Vermaat told APNZ today "I did push over Buddha".

"I had been travelling in Laos and Cambodia for three and-a-half, four weeks, so I visited many of the temples and met a lot of beautiful Laos people who are Buddhist so it's not [like] me to discredit somebody else's religion.

"That night some strange things happened and I don't know, maybe I can just bring it down to being possessed by something and although I still remember everything as well....I was aware but I wasn't completely the person in charge so to say.

"Walking through it, I was drawing to go towards the centre of the temple, so I put down my bag at the entrance where I would meet my tuk-tuk driver and I went in and from that moment on I felt really strange.

"The temple is not a Buddhist temple, it belongs to a goddess called Inanna - and this is not something I knew, this is something they told me - one of the things that she hates...is rubbish and she feels that her temple has been used for the wrong things."



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