Police on the hunt for Dhammajayo
Deputy top policeman thinks abbot still in country
Police are in the process of tracking down Phra Dhammajayo and believe the embattled abbot is still in the country, says deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul.
The Wat Phra Dhammakaya abbot is reportedly receiving medical treatment in Wat Phra Dhammakaya; there has been no record of the monk leaving the country, Pol Gen Srivara said, citing Immigration Bureau records.
However, it is unlikely the abbot is in the temple as he has not shown up for several major religious events there, he said.
- Opinion: Arrest order may come next week
Pol Gen Srivara said police are not employing delaying tactics over the abbot's arrest, but rather waiting to be sure they can nab him before proceeding with the operation.
"We will wait until we have 100% confidence in the operation's success before the operation to arrest him is launched," said Pol Gen Srivara
Security checkpoints are present around the temple, while the temple's followers have not hindered police operations, he said.
Last Thursday, the Sikhiu Provincial Court approved a warrant for the arrest of Phra Dhammajayo for alleged forest encroachment by the temple's World Peace Valley Meditation Centre at Khao Yai National Park in Pak Chong district, said deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul yesterday.
Phra Dhammajayo also faces an arrest warrant issued by the Loei Provincial Court on Aug 15 after a police probe found Wat Dhammakaya's meditation facility in Loei's Phu Rua encroached on a forest reserve.
In addition, on May 17, another arrest warrant requested by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) was issued against him for alleged involvement in money laundering and receiving stolen property in connection with the multi-million-baht Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) embezzlement scandal.
Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday the DSI is unlikely to raid Wat Phra Dhammakaya to arrest the abbot unless public prosecutors indict him.
If the arrest is made and prosecutors decide not to indict the monk, the detention could be a waste of time, he said.
The DSI made its first attempt to arrest the abbot at the temple in Pathum Thani's Khlong Luang district on June 16. The arrest bid failed after the abbot's followers gathered en masse and blocked authorities from entering.
Gen Paiboon said he has asked the DSI to investigate who else was involved in a side-saga to the KCUC embezzlement scandal, in which a married couple, both DSI officials, allegedly took a bribe of 40 million baht. "I do not believe the pair acted alone," Gen Paiboon said.
Gen Paiboon said the the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo), which was involved in removing the KCUC's land from an asset freeze order, also needs to be scrutinised.
"The Amlo chief must be asked about this issue, and I am ready to send the evidence to the agency for consideration," said the minister.
The couple were identified as Maj Nattaya Muttamara and her husband, Lt Col Pakorn Muttamara.
The two are among suspects implicated previously in the sale of the KCUC's land in Nakhon Ratchasima province to Phitsanulok Ethanol Co. This case is being investigated as part of the probe into the KCUC scandal.