Dhammajayo faces four more arrest warrants

Dhammajayo faces four more arrest warrants

Assistant abbot reports to cops after summons

Fugitive sect leader Phra Dhammajayo is to face four more warrants, over alleged encroachment on state forests.
Fugitive sect leader Phra Dhammajayo is to face four more warrants, over alleged encroachment on state forests.

Former abbot Phra Dhammajayo is set to face four more arrest warrants on charges in relation to Wat Phra Dhammakaya's alleged encroachment on forest land.

Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul yesterday said he and a group of investigators will inspect Muktawan meditation facility on Phangnga's Yao Noi Island today as it allegedly encroaches on hundreds of rai of the Kuanjuk forest reserve's mountain.

He said the inspection would help police widen the probe into the temple's encroachment on forest land. Arrest warrants for the former abbot on charges of encroachment on four locations will be issued soon, Pol Gen Srivara said, though he refused to give details about the encroached areas.

According to the deputy police chief, the temple is likely to have encroached on at least 10 forest areas across the country.

Phra Dhammajayo, now the honorary abbot, was indicted for money-laundering charges in connection with the multi-billion-baht Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) embezzlement scandal. The case was investigated by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

The monk is also the subject of arrest warrants issued by the Sikhiu and Loei provincial courts in connection with alleged forest encroachment in Sikhiu district of Nakhon Ratchasima province and in Loei province.

Meanwhile, Phra Sutham Suthammo, an assistant abbot at the temple, yesterday turned himself to police following a summons to hear a charge of providing shelter to Phra Dhammajayo. He was released after acknowledging the charge.

Last week, police obtained four warrants approved by the court to search the temple and detain Phra Dhammajayo from Tuesday, but no action was taken. The focus has now turned to police as to what they will do next.

Pol Gen Srivara said if officers' assessment indicates the search operation is unsafe, they will not try to enter the temple since people and their property could be put in danger.

It remains unclear how many people enter and exit the temple now, he said.

Police are likely to seize all the unlawful structures in the temple within three months, he noted.

The deputy police chief insisted it is still not necessary for the regime to invoke Section 44 of the interim charter to deal with Phra Dhammajayo.

"No strong measure is needed now," said Pol Gen Srivara.

Officers are also tracking down Ong-art Thamnitha, the spokesman for Dhammakaya sect disciples, wanted under an arrest warrant for inciting public unrest in violation of Section 116 of the Criminal Code.

A DSI source said that based on intelligence information, Mr Ong-art has sneaked out of the country. Officials are in the process of contacting a country where he is believed to be hiding, the source said, adding Mr Ong-art was unlikely to leave the country via legal channels.

The source said another warrant to search the temple is likely to be sought after New Year and the DSI will roll out a string of measures to put pressure on the people involved.

The DSI will work hasten to investigate and prosecute monks who have administrative powers in the temple.

They will also probe an allegation that hundreds of millions of baht of the KCUC's money was used to buy shares on the stock market.

Meanwhile, Wat Phra Dhammakaya has filed a counter-lawsuit against Veerasak Hadda, the chairman of Klong Sam Tambon Administration Organisation in Pathum Thani, who on Friday filed a police complaint that many structures inside the 196-rai compound of the temple had been built without permission.

The temple's lawyer Natthachai Kliewpian said the lawsuit was filed on Monday against Mr Veerasak on charges of malfeasance with the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.

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