Thai police chief in Germany to collect monk

national June 05, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

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A HIGH-RANKING monk who fled accusations of money-laundering will be escorted back to Thailand tomorrow, according to a source with the police team sent to collect him from detention in Germany. 

Phra Phrommedhi fled first to Laos before arriving on Friday at Frankfurt Airport where he was detained by Immigration officials.

A team of police and prosecutors led by national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda has travelled to Frankfurt to arrest the suspect over allegations he embezzled state funds meant for temples.

The source said Thai police had bought 14 air tickets with THAI Airways, with one reserved for the fugitive.

However, in a break with routine procedure, the team did not include a lawyer. 

Prayut Phetchakhun, deputy spokesman at the Office of the Attorney General, told reporters that his office wasn’t contacted to send any attorney. Under normal procedure, police who locate a fugitive overseas inform the Attorney General’s Office to allow co-ordination with the Foreign Ministry in securing the suspect’s extradition, Prayut said. 

A source from the police team said the case of Phra Phrommedhi differed because Thailand had asked Germany not to allow the fugitive to enter the country. Hence German officials revoked his visa and prepared for his deportation rather than extradition.

On May 24, police raided three temples in Bangkok in search of seven senior monks wanted on charges of embezzling state funds. Two of the suspects – Phra Phrommedhi, former assistant abbot of Samphanthawongsaram Temple, and ex-Sa Ket Temple abbot Phra Phromsitti – initially managed to elude arrest. However, Phra Phromsitti surrendered earlier this week, was denied bail, defrocked and sent to jail. 

Phra Phrommedhi, meanwhile, was nabbed in Germany. 

Yesterday, Phra Wisutthisatsanawithet, the 37-year-old private secretary of Phra Phromsitti, was brought to the Crime Suppression Division for interrogation.

He is not implicated in embezzlement but police had found intimate photos with laymen. By monastic rules, monks must uphold a vow of celibacy. 

An informed source said Phra Wisutthisatsanawithet, an engineering graduate, had quickly climbed the monastic ranks in just 16 years of monkhood. But after his alleged sexual relationships with men were exposed, he left the monkhood yesterday. 

Phra Buddha Isara, now known as Suwit Thongprasert, is one of the formerly esteemed monks being detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison. 

The facility’s chief Krit Krasaetip said Suwit was sent to the Corrections Department’s hospital yesterday after he reported having black faeces. 

“But doctors have explained that it’s a side effect of medicines given to him to treat his herniated disc. So, he has already returned to the correctional facility,” Krit said.