Cops widen probe into cult bodies

Cops widen probe into cult bodies

Faeces eaten as cure by leader's disciples

Tawee Nanra, known as a spiritual leader to a cult group, speaks to his followers at a temple in Chaiyaphum.
Tawee Nanra, known as a spiritual leader to a cult group, speaks to his followers at a temple in Chaiyaphum.

Police are making further enquiries to find out who may have been involved in keeping 11 bodies found on Sunday at a cult temple in Khon San district of Chaiyaphum province.

The 75-year-old cult leader, identified as Tawee Nanra, was also arrested in the raid following complaints about a suspected cult that spread superstitious beliefs and offered non-scientific treatments of various illnesses in tambon Dong Klang.

On Monday, the Phukiao Provincial Court set bail for Mr Tawee at 50,000 baht, which was paid by his 62-year-old brother, Thongthip Nanra.

Police initially pressed four charges against Mr Tawee for public land encroachment, breaching the Medicine Act, transferral of corpses and holding gatherings made illegal under the emergency decree.

Chaiyaphum governor Kraisorn Kongchalad on Tuesday revealed that he has formed an inspection panel to launch a fact-finding probe into how local authorities had remained unaware of such macabre goings-on in the compound.

In addition, Mr Kraisorn has instructed the cult's followers to leave the premises and a demolition notice has been put up outside.

Saroj Boonprom, chief of the Khon San Forest protection unit, said an initial investigation by aerial GPS placed the temple in a forest area, which is considered encroachment.

The investigation is slated to need another three or four days, Mr Saroj said.

Regarding the 11 corpses found at the site, Khon San Hospital has already carried out post-mortems and identified the deceased. Their bodies will be returned to relatives.

Mr Tawee was known as a phra bida or "spiritual father", whom his followers believed had learned to cure sickness by drinking and eating his urine and excrement. He also made ya dong, a herbal medicine, but his recipe included animal hair and bones as well as coconut shells, according to officers at the scene on Monday.

Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that it was "disgusting" while Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Tawee's followers may have called him phra bida but Srithanya Hospital, a psychiatric hospital, "would just call the guy a patient".



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