DHAMMAKAYA Temple followers yesterday accused the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) of singling out abbot Phra Dhammachayo.
They also asked why the case against Phra Buddha Isara, abbot of Or Noi Temple, had shown little progress.
The followers were lashing out against the authorities, especially the DSI, for pursuing a money-laundering case against Phra Dhammachayo and four accomplices in relation to the embezzlement of several billion baht from the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative. “Some 32 other recipients of the allegedly embezzled funds have not returned the money, but the DSI did not go after them. Phra Dhammachayo received those funds as donations and his followers have returned the money in full to the cooperative, yet the DSI has mobilised thousands of officials to nail him,” Ong-art Thamnita said yesterday in his capacity as representative of the temple followers.
According to him, Dhammakaya followers have already returned Bt1.05 billion to the cooperative and were willing to return more if evidence shows that more funds from the cooperative had been donated to the temple.
“We have learnt from news reports that some Bt400 million more has been illegitimately channelled out of the cooperative for donations. If there is evidence, then we will discuss providing a remedy to those affected,” Ongart said.
He added that his group was considering lodging complaints against relevant authorities for perceived double standards, citing the cases against Phra Buddha Isara and former senator Paiboon Nititawan. Both are facing charges related to the Bangkok Shutdown campaign – a weeks-long protest at various government agencies in 2014. The military took over not long after the campaign was launched.
“If such double standards exist, then the enforcement of law would just be seen as a tool to destroy political rivals of the powers-that-be,” Ongart said. He also asked why the DSI had mobilised thousands of officials to just arrest Phra Dhammachayo.
“Did the DSI receive a specific order from somebody?” he asked.
Last week, the DSI led an operation to search the expansive Dhammakaya Temple grounds in Pathum Thani province, but was unable to do so as they were blocked by thousands of followers.
Since this scandal came to light, Phra Dhammachayo has chosen not to respond to the DSI summons citing health problems. An arrest warrant for him was issued last month, but so far, officials have not been able to find him, let alone being able to officially press charges.
Pathum Thani’s police chief Pol Maj-General Thavorn Khaosa-ard said yesterday that the DSI had submitted photos as evidence against some 20 Dhammakaya followers for obstructing its work. “It says it will submit more evidence,” he said.