Phra Dattajivo turns himself over to cops

Phra Dattajivo turns himself over to cops

Police question, release 10 suspects

Dattajivo: To meet officers again today
Dattajivo: To meet officers again today

A former Wat Phra Dhammakaya acting abbot and nine other monks and laymen wanted in connection with forest encroachment at Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday turned themselves in to police.

The 10 suspects, including the former acting abbot Phra Dattajivo, yesterday appeared at the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division to acknowledge charges against them after being summoned by police for a second time.

Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul and Pol Col Somkid Thipchakkapong, superintendent of the division, were present.

Besides the former acting abbot, the suspects included three other monks: Phra Kru Palad Bhibhat Palawisut, Phra Phawanadhamwithet and Phra Kru Samuwissanu Panyatheepo.

The six other individuals are Khamnuan Khongsupphalak, Saowanee Siripongboonsit, Phitsamai Saenghiran, Metta Suwachittawong, Amornrat Sermwatthanakul and Witchaya Traiwichian.

All of them have been charged in connection with the temple's World Peace Valley Meditation Centre which was built on forest reserve land at Khao Yai National Park in Pak Chong district.

The 10 are among 21 suspects including ex-abbot Phra Dhammajayo who were summoned to face the same charges. They belong to committees of several foundations under the control of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

Pol Gen Srivara yesterday said the suspects were questioned for more than an hour and temporarily released without surety as they had turned themselves in to police. However, the suspects are supposed to meet police officers at the division again today before they are taken to Sikhiu Provincial Court in Nakhon Ratchasima. Police will submit a detention request to the court, he said.

Police will oppose bail during the investigation procedure. However, they can submit requests for bail during the trial, he said.

The deputy national police chief said they had been informed 10 other suspects would meet with police to acknowledge the charges on April 4.

Among these suspects, five are monks. They are Phra Kru Amnuaysak Munisakko, Phra Kru Samusuwit Suwitchako, Phra Maha Sutthichai Sutthiyayo, Phra Somchai Jiradhammo, and Phra Sathaporn Yanawitcho.

The others are Siriporn Sirikwanchai, Sirimart Phatthanasri, Lt Krueawan Naebchit, Areephan Treeanusorn and Ubonthip Suwannanon.

Last year, Sikhiu Provincial Court approved an arrest warrant for Phra Dhammajayo for alleged forest encroachment by the temple's meditation centre at Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima province.

The Loei Provincial Court also granted a warrant for his arrest after a police probe found the temple's meditation facility in Loei's Phu Rua district was built on a forest reserve during Phra Dhammajayo's time as abbot.

Phra Dhammajayo is also facing charges of money laundering and receiving property in connection with the multi-billion-baht Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative embezzlement scandal.

The monk failed to report to the Department of Investigation (DSI), which is investigating the case, by the Nov 30 deadline last year.

According to the DSI, several hundred million baht were siphoned off by the former cooperative chairman Supachai Srisupa-aksorn from his organisation and paid to the abbot and his associates.

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