Dhammachayo arrest on hold as warrant expires; temple faces more than 100 complaints
AS THE search warrant authorising the Department of Special Investigation to enter the Dhammakaya Temple to arrest former abbot Phra Dhammachayo expired last night, police revealed that the temple now faces more than 100 complaints for various offences.
Ongart Thamnita, the spokesman for followers of the temple, could also be arrested on sight after a court approved a warrant for his arrest on Thursday, a police source said.
As it was feared that a raid on the 800-acre temple compound could encounter a large gathering of disciples, it was reported that Provincial Police Region 1 acting deputy chief Pol Maj-General Sombat Milinthachinda had sent an urgent letter to six provincial police chiefs to prepare their crowd control companies.
This would involve 1,800 officers from Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Ang Thong and Lop Buri plus another 300 officers from Sing Buri and Chai Nat.
Phra Dhammachayo is being sought over money-laundering charges linked to the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative embezzlement case.
The arrest warrant for Ongart was approved after DSI spokesman Pol Major Woranan Srilam filed a complaint at the Crime Suppression Division against Ongart and other temple adherents under Section 116 (2) for making public statements that incited disaffection in a manner likely to cause a disturbance.
Deputy national police spokesman Pol Colonel Krisana Pattanacharoen said that the temple, in Pathum Thani’s Klong Luang district, faced more than 100 complaints and police would study details and steps to decide whether to apply for another search warrant later.
Deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Ransibrahamakul spent eight hours at Klong Luang Police Station until 1am yesterday going over cases against the temple, an informed source reported.
The meeting was told that as many as 61 buildings in the over-2,000-rai temple compound were built without permission and there were also seven new encroachment cases.
When combined to the previously filed 43 cases, it totalled 111 cases, the source said.
Meanwhile, 150 officers from the 1st company of crowd control police at Ang Thong Provincial Police Command yesterday rehearsed crowd-control measures to back the DSI operation to search the temple, an informed source reported. The province’s second company of crowd-control officers were due to practice later.
Police continued to man checkpoints on the roads surrounding the temple yesterday and screen people coming in and out of the temple, while disciples visited the temple to make merit and pray.
One of the two drones used by the DSI to survey the temple compound, apparently malfunctioned yesterday and fell on the head of an unnamed official, causing a bleeding head wound. DSI officials picked up the drone and left the temple’s seventh gate without commenting to the media.