IT WILL become clear on Tuesday as to whether the Dhammakaya Temple’s controversial abbot will turn himself in to face charges of colluding in money laundering and receiving stolen items, a lawyer coordinating the matter disclosed yesterday.
Lawyer Somsak Toraksa maintained that Phra Dhammachayo would definitely turn himself in to police.
“That is unavoidable. But it will be clear on June 14 as to when he will turn himself in and how he will do that,” Somsak said, noting that an arrest warrant has already been issued for the monk.
The lawyer said that he would call a press conference at 2pm on that day.
He said yesterday that he had informed the Dhammakaya Temple that Dhammachayo needed to turn himself in for indictment. “The DSI [Department of Special Investigation] just wants to inform him about the charges. They do not want to get involved in any friction,” he added.
Dhammachayo is wanted by the DSI in connection with an embezzlement scandal involving one of his followers, Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who is serving a 16-year imprisonment for embezzling Bt12 billion from Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative of which he had served as chairman. Supachai donated much of the money to the abbot and other Dhammakaya monks.
Somsak is a lawyer from Pak Nam Phasi Charoen Temple and is also working on a separate case involving its abbot Somdej Chuang – who had ordained Dhammachayo and also heads a monastic committee that performs the duties of the Supreme Patriarch.
Somdej Chuang himself has been linked to a scandal involving alleged evasion of import duties in connection with a vintage Mercedes-Benz saloon displayed at his temple.
“It’s over if he surrenders, as he is wanted under an arrest warrant. I have appealed to Wat Dhammakaya to help end this issue voluntarily so that the justice process will continue,” Somsak said.
He added that the temple is planning a legal battle in case Dhammachayo turns himself in.
Dhammachayo’s followers have maintained that the abbot is too ill to leave the temple. The monk has not been seen in public for several days.
The lawyer disclosed yesterday that there is still a condition set by the temple to which the DSI needs to agree before Dhammachayo would surrender. However, he refused to discuss about this in detail.
Meanwhile, DSI deputy director-general Somboom Sarasit said yesterday that he was unaware of any plan for the abbot to surrender soon. He said that Somsak has not informed him about that. And the DSI team negotiating the monk’s surrender also knew nothing about his possible surrender, he added.
On Tuesday, the DSI team is scheduled to meet with Dhammachayo’s representatives at Khien Khet Temple in Pathum Thani at 2pm for a third round of meetings to negotiate the monk’s surrender.
In a related development, Paiboon Nititawan and Mano Laohawanit, who have campaigned against Dhammachayo, yesterday petitioned the abbot’s monastic supervisor to order an investigation into his alleged serious violation of the monastic code.
Paiboon and Mano called on Somdej Puttha Chinnawong, the abbot of Phitchayatikaram Temple who is the head of the Thai monastic community’s Central region (“Chao Khana Yai Hon Klang” in Thai), at his temple.
Their petition accused Dhammachayo of committing a serious religious offence by claiming to have travelled to heaven and met the spirits of deceased persons, including Steve Jobs, the late boss of Apple.