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Dhammachayo given until end of month to surrender: police


CONTROVERSIAL abbot Phra Dhammachayo has been given until the end of the month to surrender to authorities, in a move that could spark a confrontation with disciples at Wat Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani.

The deadline relates to an arrest warrant in a case involving the World Peace Valley Khao Yai monastic retreat, which is encroaching into state-owned land in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district.
On Wednesday the Attorney-General’s Office announced a decision to indict Dhammachayo and four others on charges of conspiracy to launder money, money laundering and receiving stolen assets linked the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) embezzlement case.
Ong-art Dhammanitta, a spokesman for the Dhammakaya disciples’ group, said yesterday that the abbot was recovering from his illness in the temple and had no passport.
He said the announcement on Wednesday did not really mean that the monk would be indicted, as he said the prosecutors could change their minds.
Asked whether “human shields” will be used to block moves to arrest the monk, he said it depended on whether they were provoked.
“The last time, people [the authorities] were acting like this wasn’t a temple. How could you expect the disciples to not be shocked? People can do things if they are shocked, so don’t shock the disciples,” he warned.

Prawit lends his support

He said that if any chaos occurred, it would most likely be caused by a third party.
Deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Ransibrahamakul said the abbot has until the end of this month to turn himself in over a fresh arrest warrant concerning the World Peace Valley Khao Yai monastic retreat.
Srivara said he has assigned acting Special Branch Bureau 4 chief Pol Maj-General Chayapol Chatchaidech to locate the monk so they can apply for a search warrant.
Srivara said that if the monk had no intention to destroy evidence, he would be released on bail. He also said that police would proceed with discretion to prevent damageto the religion.
Srivara also said that police was ready to provide supportive manpower to help the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) arrest the abbot.
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said he fully supported Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya’s decision for the next move after the prosecutors’ announcement to indict Phra Dhammachayo. Prosecutors have also urged the DSI to arrest Phra Dhammachayo and another suspect, Sasithorn Chokprasit, before the statute of limitations for the 2009 crime expires in 2024.
Prawit said he believed the abbot, who has failed to show up for DSI questioning on grounds of illness, is still in Thailand. Prawit said he was not worried that moves to arrest the famous sect leader might lead to disorder because officials would follow the law. He said that since the abbot faced an arrest warrant, he should testify so the prosecutors can consider his side of the story. Prosecutors decided to indict him in absentia on grounds of “convincing evidence”.
The three other suspects are former KCUC chief executive Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who is serving a 16-year jail term for embezzling Bt27 million, and former KCUC executives Saranya Manmad and Thongpin Kanlorm.

 

Published : November 24, 2016

By : The Nation