Temple search ends with no signs of Phra Dhammajayo

Temple search ends with no signs of Phra Dhammajayo

Monks watch authorities search the Boon Raksa building inside Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Khlong Luang district, Pathum Thani, on Friday. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
Monks watch authorities search the Boon Raksa building inside Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Khlong Luang district, Pathum Thani, on Friday. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) ended the 23-day siege of Wat Phra Dhammakaya and declared its former abbot a fugitive suspect after the latest futile search on Friday.

DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang told a media briefing after going inside the temple on Friday that authorities did not find Phra Dhammajayo and suspected that the embattled monk might have already fled the temple in Khlong Luang district, Pathum Thani province.

The search by the DSI-led operation on Friday focused on Boon Raksa, a six-storey building. As it had been well-guarded, the agency was convinced that Phra Dhammajayo might be there.

When the officials returned empty-handed, Pol Col Paisit ended the search inside the temple and added that the DSI and police would continue to hunt him outside and alert immigration authorities to watch out for the monk trying to leave the country.

"Phra Dhammajayo should turn himself in to enter the judicial process and fight the case in court," he said.

Phra Dhammajayo could be on the run but the statute of limitations of the case was 15 years, the official added.

The blockade of Wat Phra Dhammakaya started on Feb 16 as officials tried to capture the monk wanted on money-laundering and receiving stolen assets in connection with the Klongchan Credit Union embezzlement case. He also faces forest encroachment and other charges.

The officials and supporters of the monk also agreed to clear Khlong Luang market and other gates, where standoffs had been reported between the authorities and disciples of the temple, to return the situation to normal.

The DSI chief also indicated a Section 44 order, which designates the temple and the surrounding areas a control zone so the agency could search the temple, might be lifted shortly.


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