Fugitive jet-setting monk Nen Kham arrested in US
published : 22 Jul 2016 at 14:09
writer: King-oua Laohong
Disgraced ex-monk Wirapol Sukphol, formerly known as Luang Pu Nen Kham, has been arrested by US authorities three years after he fled Thailand with police hot on his heels.
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Paisit Wongmuang said on Friday that US authorities notified the department this morning that they had arrested the fugitive.
The former monk who called himself Luang Pu Nen Kham is wanted by the DSI on charges of breaching the Computer Crimes Act, money laundering, child abduction and raping a girl aged below 15.
A photo posted on the Facebook page of former pilot Piya Tregalnon shows Phra Wirapol Sukphol aboard a private jet, brandishing a bundle of US dollar banknotes. Mr Piya said the monk wanted to buy a private jet and asked him to find one.
The DSI and the Office of the Attorney General have been working closely in seeking his extradition, Pol Col Paisit said.
“We will await for the US court to notify us what charges the suspect is facing. He will be allowed to exercise his right to appeal our extradition request and to fight the case before being sent back to Thailand. This process requires a certain period of time,’’ the DSI chief said.
Mr Wirapol, known as the jet-setting monk, gained notoriety in 2013 following the release of video footage showing him travelling aboard a private jet while still a monk. He was carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, wore brand-name sunglasses and was found to own more than 100 luxury cars and numerous large tracts of land.
He fled Thailand that year and was reported to have taken refuge in France before moving to Los Angeles where he later claimed he intended to establish a new religious sect. A report in late May this year said he had been spotted in Hawaii but that was not confirmed.
It was not immediately known where he was arrested or where he was being held.
He was expelled from the monkhood in absentia after allegations of his criminal behaviour and high-flying lifestyle became public.
Authorities had seized a total of 380 million baht from his bank accounts, but he was able to take cash and gold out of the country, reports said.
DSI deputy chief Pol Lt Col Pong-in Intarakhao said later there was a high chance Mr Wirapol would be extradited back to Thailand for trial. Authorities had already completed extradition procedures and issued the necessary documents, he said.
For now, the matter rests with the US court, Pol Lt Col Pong-in added.
- Nen Kham