DSI: Dhammakaya standoff to end in 5 days

DSI: Dhammakaya standoff to end in 5 days

A monk keeps a wary eye on a soldier on duty at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya followers' rally site in a market just outside the temple in Khlong Luang district, Pathum Thani. (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)
A monk keeps a wary eye on a soldier on duty at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya followers' rally site in a market just outside the temple in Khlong Luang district, Pathum Thani. (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)

PATHUM THANI - The standoff between authorities and Wat Phra Dhammakaya followers will end by Monday, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) announced on Wednesday.

An interrogation venue had already been prepared for its former abbot and sect founder, Phra Dhammajayo, DSI deputy director-general Songsak Raksaksakul said. He did not say how the two points were linked.

"Within the next week, or five days from now, the case of Wat Phra Dhammakaya must be concluded," Pol Col Songsak, the official spokesman, told the media at the Region 1 Border Patrol Police Bureau in Khlong Luang district.

The DSI's timeframe was revealed after temple followers dug moats at Wat Phra Dhammakaya to block access to its six-storey medical care building, Boon Raksa, which is well-guarded.

The latest search for Phra Dhammajayo began on Feb 16 when authorities entered the grounds of the temple, which sprawl over 2,300 rai. It has so far been unproductive and the whereabouts of the 72-year-old monk remains uncertain, although attention does seem to be focusing on the Boon Raksa building.

Pol Col Songsak said the situation had been very prolonged, and the temple had time to mislead society into believing the attempt to arrest Phra Dhammajayo was damaging to Buddhism.

He did not elaborate on the venue he said had been prepared for Phra Dhammajayo. He did say some officials had proposed the defrocking of the former abbot, who has been removed from his position by royal decree.

The DSI spokesman denied authorities had totally failed to accomplish their mission at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. The matter was sensitive, he said, and authorities had to step carefully.

The DSI has summoned over a dozen monks and about 160 laymen supporters accused of defying the dictate of the National Council for Peace and Order making the temple and its vicinity an area under special control, to facilitate authorities' attempts to arrest the wanted senior monk.

Phra Dhammajayo is wanted for alleged money laundering and receiving stolen property in connection with multi-billion-baht embezzlement at Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative, building code violations by buildings in Wat Dhammakaya's compound and forest encroachment by branches of the temple in several provinces.

He has failed to answer any charge and ignored summonses and arrest warrants for about a year.


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