FORMER MONK Phra Yantra Amaro Bhikkhu has returned to Thailand after spending more than two decades in the United States while the statute of limitations on the legal problems he faces in the Kingdom ran out.
The former monk, using his lay name of Winai La-ongsuwan, was seen in his home province of Nakhon Si Thammarat in the South. He appeared to have long hair and beard, both white, and was dressed in an outfit similar to a monk’s robes, worn over a long-sleeved shirt.
He said he will leave Thailand on May 13 after visiting the abbot of Wat Rattanaram in the province’s Pak Phanang district, who ordained him in 1974. Winai reportedly entered Thailand before the Songkran break last week.
Apart from fathering a child, despite taking a vow of celibacy as a Buddhist monk, Winai also faces defamation charges against the late Supreme Patriarch. He also faced a number of civil cases filed by several people, including his former followers, until the statute of limitations reportedly ran out recently.
Amnart Buasiri, a deputy director of the National Buddhism Office, said the religious authorities could take no action against Winai, because he was now a layman.
Winai left Thailand in 1994 after he was found to have fathered a girl with a follower – a severe violation of monastic rules, which means he cannot re-enter the monkhood.