NEW YORK, May 7 (Xinhua) -- A 10th century sandstone sculpture, the Duryodhana, will return to its homeland Cambodia this June, following the settlement of a civil forfeiture action in New York, a Cambodian official said Wednesday.
Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia Sok An made a special visit to take back the ancient statue of Duryodhana.
The Cambodian government wishes to thank the federal government of the U.S., especially the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, for their commitment to preserve cultural heritage of humanities and their strong willingness to promote the friendship and cooperation between the two countries, Sok An said.
According to Cambodian authorities, the 1.5-meter-high Duryodhana statue without hands and feet, was stolen in the 1970s from the 1,000-year-old Prasa Chen Temple in northern Cambodia.
In March 2011, Sotheby's placed the piece for a high-profile auction in New York. However, the transaction was stopped upon the Cambodian government's request.
In April 2012, the U.S. Attorney filed an action in a federal court in New York seeking forfeiture of the statue and handing it back to Cambodia. Nonetheless, Sotheby's has not agreed to return the statue until December 2013.
"We are proud to have played a role in removing the Duryodhana from the stream of commerce, and pleased to commemorate its imminent return to its homeland," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Sok An stressed the importance to recover looted Khmer ancient artifacts.
He also appealed to other museums and art collectors around the world to follow the example of returning plundered treasures to their rightful owners for the protection of cultural heritage.