The United States has handed back 27 stolen antiquities to Cambodia, which include Hindu and Buddhist statues, recovered by the New York law enforcement agency investigating cases of smuggled artefacts.
The relics valued at around $3.8 million, include several Hindu and Angkorian Buddhist statues, such as a bronze meditating Buddha on a Naga, a statue of Shiva, and a Buddhist sandstone sculpture of Prajnaparamit, according to a Reuters report.
Cambodian Culture Minister Phoeumg Sackona attended the handing over event virtually and said the country welcomed the repatriation of its long-lost relics. He termed the artefacts as the “missing souls of Cambodia’s ancestors.”
"The repatriation of these 27 stunning relics to the people of Cambodia restores an important link between the nation's classical Angkor era and its modern customs and beliefs that, for far too long, was disrupted by the greed of stolen antiquities traffickers," the Reuters report cited Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr as saying.
The Cambodian items were among nearly 400 being returned to 10 countries after investigations by Manhattan's Antiquities Trafficking Unit and Homeland Security Investigations.
U.S. authorities last week returned to Thailand two 680 kg stone carvings stolen decades ago, which had been on display at a San Francisco museum.
Reuters report: United States returns 27 stolen antiquities to Cambodia