DSI delays decision on monk

DSI delays decision on monk

Temple leaders on Monday claimed followers of the Dhammakaya sect across the country raised money to fund purchase of rice and other food to send to the temple in Pathum Thani province in order
Temple leaders on Monday claimed followers of the Dhammakaya sect across the country raised money to fund purchase of rice and other food to send to the temple in Pathum Thani province in order "to encourage the clergy". (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Authorities failed to reach a conclusion on how to deal with Phra Dhammajayo, who faces an arrest warrant, at their second meeting yesterday and will re-convene again next Tuesday to sound out solutions.

Wat Phra Dhammakaya's embattled abbot has failed to come forward to acknowledge charges of money laundering and receiving stolen assets in connection with the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative embezzlement case despite the Criminal Court having approved an arrest warrant against him.

On Friday, the abbot's representatives proposed three conditions: the abbot must be granted bail when hearing the charges; Phra Theprattanasuthi, who is the chief monk of Pathum Thani province in which Wat Phra Dhammakaya is located, must also be present when the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) meets the abbot; and only a medical team from Phramongkutklao Hospital could be sent to check on the health of the 72-year-old abbot.

The DSI, the National Office of Buddhism (ONAB), and Phra Theprattanasuthi met Monday to find out how to deal with these conditions.

Wat Phra Dhammakaya did not send a representative to attend the meeting as requested.

DSI deputy chief, Somboon Sarasit, said after the meeting were three or four options for dealing with the abbot, including expediting the investigation and forwarding the probe's report to public prosecutors regardless of whether the abbot's conditions for meeting authorities will be reached; seeking help from the governing monk in Pathum Thani and the ONAB to deal with the monk based on the Clergy Act; and seeking cooperation from other parties.

Solutions will be discussed at the meeting next Tuesday and they must be in line with the law, said Pol Lt Col Somboon.

Phra Theprattanasuthi's adviser, Somsak Toraksa, said that two conditions proposed by Wat Phra Dhammakaya were agreed upon by those at the meeting, but refused to discuss them.

It is believed the unacceptable condition is that only a medical team from Phramongkutklao Hospital be allowed to check on the abbot's health, sources said.

The Medical Council of Thailand (TMC) is prepared to send a team to check on the abbot as requested previously by the temple.

Secretary-general Sampan Komrit has accepted the request to check Phra Dhammajayo's health because the TMC wants to make details of his health condition clear to the public.

The abbot claims he is too ill to report to the DSI to hear the charges. However, the council has not yet received a response from the monk.

Meanwhile, DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang said his agency is working with the governing monks to look into disciplinary action against Phra Dhammajayo and its investigation into the case.

He said an investigation team had been sent to find out where the abbot was in the temple.

Pol Col Paisit also said the temple also has asked the DSI to change some investigators.

Lt Gen Dr Chumpol Piamsomboon, chief of the army-run Phramongkutklao Hospital, said those who want his hospital's doctors to examine the abbot must seek permission from the army.

He said the DSI or Wat Phra Dhammakaya must contact the army to proceed, though he insisted doctors from other hospitals are also capable of doing such tasks and it is not necessary to only invite those from Phramongkutklao Hospital.

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