Fourth arrest warrant out for Phra Dhammajayo

Fourth arrest warrant out for Phra Dhammajayo

The Phangnga Provincial Court has approved warrants for the arrest of Phra Dhammajayo, former abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani, and another man for alleged involvement in the encroachment of about 52 rai of forest reserve in Ko Yao district of Phangnga to build a meditation centre.

The other man was identified as Phet Kaensap, 54, of Lop Buri's Muang district. 

On Nov 28, 2016, Prawit Chuaymut, a forestry official of the 1st Forest Protection Unit in Phangnga, lodged a complaint with the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division that a total of 52 rai of forest reserve in tambon Ko Yao Noi of Ko Yao district had been encroached on to make way for the construction of buildings and other structures under the Muktawan project.

Muktawan is a meditation facility affiliated to Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani.

On Dec 21, with a search warrant issued by the Phangnga Provincial Court, Pol Gen Srivara Ransibhramanakul, a deputy police chief, led a team of police, military and administrative officials to examine the Muktawan project and found it had encroached on the two plots of forest reserves.

Pol Gen Srivara then ordered the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division to conduct an investigation.  Police later asked the provincial court to approve warrants for the arress of Phra Dhammajayo, 73, and Mr Phet.

The court on Wednesday approved the arrest warrants.

Phra Dhammajayo was already wanted under three other warrants -- one for money-laundering and receiving stolen property in connection with the multi-milion-baht Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative and two others for alleged land encroachment in Loei and Nakhon Ratchasima provinces.

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