Prosecutors to indict Dhammajayo, four others

Prosecutors to indict Dhammajayo, four others

Followers of Phra Dhammajayo gather for meditation at Wat Phra Dhammakaya (Bang Post file photo)
Followers of Phra Dhammajayo gather for meditation at Wat Phra Dhammakaya (Bang Post file photo)

The Office of the Attorney-General has decided to indict Phra Dhammajayo, the abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple, and four other defendants for allegedly laundering money and receiving stolen property in connection with the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) embezzlement scandal, spokesman Somnuek Siangkong said on Wednesday.

The decision was made on Tuesday by a panel of special-case prosecutors after they had gone through an additional investigation report from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and petitions for justice from all defendants, Mr Somnuek said.

It was decided that first defendant Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, former KCUC chairman; third defendant Saranya Manmad, former deputy manager of KCUC; and fourth defendant Thongpin Kanlom, former KCUC chairwoman would be brought by investigators to the OAG on Nov 30, and be arraigned in court.

Supachai is serving time in prison after being found guilty in another case relating to the KCUC embezzlement. The two other accused are free on bail.

The OAG also decided to indict Phra Dhammajayo, the second defendant, and Sasithon Chokprasit, the fifth defendant, Mr Somnuek said.

Since the abbot and Ms Sasithon have not been arrested, the OAG had instructed the DSI director-general to find them and hand them over to the prosecutors for further proceedings before the 15-year statute of limitations in the case expires.

The DSI already has an arrest warrant for the abbot in this case, but it has yet to arrest him. The temple and his lawyers have repeatedly claimed he was very sick and the DSI has been reluctant to use force to execute the warrant as his many disciples have vowed to protect him at any cost.  

Chatipong Jeeraphan, deputy chief of the OAG's special cases office, said that if Phra Dhammajayo and Ms Sasithon were handed over to the OAG, they would first be interrogated. If new evidence or witnesses emerge, the decision to indict them might be altered, he said.

Mr Chatipong admitted the OAG was slow to make the indictment decision, explaining the case involved a lot of assets and property

The prosecutors had spent considerable time tracking  money trails because Supachai, Ms Saranya and Ms Thongpin had issued 27 cheques for sums totalling about 1.4 billion baht to Phra Dhammajayo and Ms Sasithon between January 2009 and April 2013.

The work had to be done carefully to protect the interests of the damaged parties, who have the right to reclaim the money they had invested in the KCUC.

The prosecutors had worked as fast as possible after receiving the additional investigation report from the DSI, Mr Chatipong said.

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