The governor of Chaiyaphum has ordered authorities to carry out post-mortem examinations on 11 bodies found on Sunday at a temple in Khon San district that was believed to be the centre of a bizarre cult that claimed to be able to cure a range of diseases.
The temple was raided by a team led by renowned shaman Jeeraphan Phetkao or Mor Pla and Chaiyaphum governor Kraisorn Kongchalad, after authorities received a barrage of complaints about a suspected cult that offered non-scientific treatments of various illnesses.
The cult, according to reports, effectively detained their patients, which they would treat with unsanitary methods that included drinking urine and excrement.
At the premise, officials found 11 bodies stored in coffins -- five of which could not be identified as the cult did not keep their death certificates.
The cult's leader, Tawee Nanra, 75 was then arrested amid protests from his followers.
Mr Kraisorn said Mr Tawee violated the Communicable Disease Act as his followers did not wear face masks during gatherings, adding he may face additional charges which include encroaching on a public area, which could see the temple demolished.
Two of Mr Tawee's relatives, Sompong and Chanta, who live in his house in Khon Kaen, said that they found out about Mr Tawee's arrest from news reports.
While they believed Mr Tawee possesses powers that could help cure diseases, they also said he should be investigated by the police.
Chaiyaphum police chief, Pol Col Wattanachai Janthathum, said that police have pressed charges against Mr Tawee, including public land encroachment, forest encroachment and violating the Communicable Disease Act.
Also, investigators are currently collecting evidence to press another charge against Mr Tawee for providing medical treatment without a licence.
He said Mr Tawee has acknowledged all charges against him.
Pol Col Wattanachai said Mr Tawee was remanded in custody at Phu Khiao Prison.
Mr Kraisorn said later in the evening the court had finally granted Mr Tawee bail.