DSI relents, promises bail to sect leader

DSI relents, promises bail to sect leader

Phra Dhammajayo, founder and leader of the Dhammakaya sect, is reportedly bargaining with the DSI, agreeing to surrender to hear criminal charges, so long as he is immediately given bail. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Phra Dhammajayo, founder and leader of the Dhammakaya sect, is reportedly bargaining with the DSI, agreeing to surrender to hear criminal charges, so long as he is immediately given bail. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has promised to grant bail to Wat Dhammakaya abbot Phra Dhammajayo if he acknowledges money laundering charges against him.

DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang pledged Sunday that when the abbot acknowledges the charges, the DSI will not oppose his bail request.

Also, if the abbot is certified by a medical team as unable to visit the DSI due to his ailments, the authorities will visit the temple and inform him of the charges, Pol Col Paisit said.

In a move seen as a compromise for the temple, the DSI said the abbot will secure bail regardless of where he answers the charges, either at the department or the temple.

On Friday, DSI deputy chief Somboon Sarasit, met representatives of Wat Dhammakaya, Phra Theprattanasuthi, who is the chief monk of Pathum Thani province in which Wat Dhammakaya is located, and the director of the National Office of Buddhism (ONAB) to iron out the bail issue.

However, the details were not disclosed until Sunday.

The DSI chief said the abbot's representatives had requested during the Friday meeting that Phra Dhammajayo be granted bail when hearing the charges.

They also said Phra Theprattanasuthi must also join the DSI when meeting the abbot. The temple asked that a medical team from the Phramongkutklao Hospital check the health of the 72-year-old abbot, who disciples insist is seriously ill, at the temple. Earlier, the temple requested a medical team from the Medical Council of Thailand.

The DSI, however, has not decided what medical team will run the health check. The issue is expected to be discussed at a meeting Monday.

A DSI source said police have made good progress in their investigation into the case. Investigators expect to wrap up the probe and send it to prosecutors this week.

The talk on Friday was held after Phra Dhammajayo repeatedly failed to meet officials at the DSI to acknowledge embezzlement charges, citing illness.

The abbot is accused of involvement in money laundering and receiving stolen property worth 1.2 billion baht in connection with the 12-billion-baht Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative embezzlement. He has denied all charges.


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