DSI head mulls backlash over Dhammajayo case

DSI head mulls backlash over Dhammajayo case

Thousands of Dhammakaya monks and followers gather for prayers at the space-age temple of the group, and to hear abbot Dhammajayo, now the target of a DSI investigation.(Bangkok Post file photo)
Thousands of Dhammakaya monks and followers gather for prayers at the space-age temple of the group, and to hear abbot Dhammajayo, now the target of a DSI investigation.(Bangkok Post file photo)

The Department of Special Investigation could face a backlash from having been unable to execute an arrest warrant against Wat Dhammakaya abbot Phra Dhammajayo, the agency’s director-general said on Monday.

DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang expressed his concern after a meeting with an investigation team to review plans and legal proceedings against the controversial monk who claimed he was too ill to leave the temple. 

Pol Col Paisit said the 72-year-old monk had asked the DSI to change a member of the investigation team to maintain impartiality of the proceedings as he had previously handled several cases against Wat Dhammakaya and him. 

Phra Dhammajayo is wanted by the DSI on charges of conspiring to launder money and receiving stolen property in connection with the embezzlement case at Klongchan Credit Union. 

Pol Col Paisit admitted he was worried that the investigators could face legal action if someone raised a question why they had yet to execute the arrest warrant and filed a complaint against them. The warrant was issued on May 17. 

However, he said the DSI was taking both monastic and criminal action against the embattled abbot. The department coordinated with Phra Theprattanasuthi, the chief monk of Pathum Thani province in which Wat Dhammakaya is located, to talk the abbot into surrendering. Plainclothes officers were also sent to the 2,000-rai monastery to locate the abbot.

Pol Col Paisit said investigators expect to wrap up the probe and send the case to prosecutors in about a week regardless of whether Phra Theprattanasuthi could convince Phra Dhammajayo to surrender. 

The DSI chief believes Phra Dhammajayo is still inside the temple. 

The abbot earlier set three conditions, including the immediate granting of bail if he reports to the investigators to hear the charges against him, at a meeting on Friday in which his representative attended on his behalf. The meeting was held to iron out the bail issue.

Another meeting was held at Wat Kian Kate in Pathum Thani, where Phra Theprattanasuthi is the abbot, on Monday. It was attended by DSI deputy chief Somboon Sarasit, the director of the Supreme Sangha Council's Secretariat Office, and Somsak Toraksa, lawyer of Phra Theprattanasuthi, who acts as a middle man between the DSI and Phra Dhammajayo.

The group still failed to reach an agreement over the surrender of Phra Dhammajayo and set June 14 for their next meeting. No details of the meeting were released. 

Phra Dhammajayo did not attend the meeting and submitted documents summarising his conditions through Mr Somsak. 

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