Phra Phrom Methee seeking asylum in Germany

Phra Phrom Methee seeking asylum in Germany

Former Phra Phrom Methee, fugitive suspect in the temple funds embezzlement scandal who fled the country prior to a raid on his temple on May 24.(File photo by Saman Sutto)
Former Phra Phrom Methee, fugitive suspect in the temple funds embezzlement scandal who fled the country prior to a raid on his temple on May 24.(File photo by Saman Sutto)

Fugitive former Phra Phrom Methee has made an application for asylum in Germany, a process that may prevent his immediate extradition to Thailand to face charges in the temple funds embezzlement scandal, Thai media reported on Tuesday.

Matichon Online quoted an informed source as saying the former assistant abbot of Wat Samphanthawong, whose lay name is Chamnong Iamintra, submitted his asylum application to German immigration officials immediately upon disembarking at Frankfurt airport.

The application had been forwarded to the Bremen office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the source said.

The former monk will next have to undergo an asylum interview and a background check as the BAMF processes his application.

National police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda and his team are already in Germany and Thai authorities had earlier contacted German officials and asked them to refuse him the former monk entry. This reportedly resulted in his visa being withdrawn. 

His official Thai passport was also reported to have been revoked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Police were believed to have booked seats on a Thai Airways flight out of Germany to Suvarnabhumi airport on Tuesday night, intending to bring the fugitive back home to face justice.

Pol Gen Chakthip is being accompanied by Pol Lt Gen Sutthipong, Pol Col Jirapop Phuridech, deputy commander of Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and public prosecutors, reports said.

But according to the same source quoted by Matichon Online on Tuesday morning the Thai team was denied permission to even meet the former Phra Phrom Methee, who was still being held by German authorities. 

On May 24 the CSD raided Wat Samphanthawong, Wat Sa Ket and Wat Sam Phraya in Bangkok, looking to arrest a number of senior monks on suspicion of being involved in the funding scandal, including then Phra Phrom Methee, but he avoided them and fled to Laos with help and then flew to Frankfurt.

Police in Nakhon Phanom, on the border with Laos, said on Monday that five people were likely to face charges of abetting his escape.

They are a woman known as “Joom”, who is former Phra Phrom Methee’s close disciple, his driver, a monk of Wat Pa Sukontharak in Nakhon Phanom’s Renu Nakhon district, a Lao woman and her son.

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