The abbot of Wat Dhammakaya is too weak to go to the Department of Special Investigation to hear the charges against him on Monday, temple officials said on Saturday.
Three days before the deadline for Phra Dhammajayo to report to answer money laundering and embezzlement charges, Phra Sanitwong Wuttiwangso, the temple's communications director, said that the abbot was advised by doctors to avoid travelling due to his health condition.
The 72-year-old abbot was prepared to meet officials at the temple at 2pm on Monday, Phra Sanitwong said, and denied that Phra Dhammajayo intended to avoid or delay the crucial meeting.
The DSI has sent a summons to the monk to report to its office at 9am on Monday. He is facing the charges in connection with the 12-billion-baht fraud at the Khlongchan Credit Union Cooperative.
But a team of doctors treating Phra Dhammajayo agreed that "the patient" should "avoid travelling for at least two or three months", according to a statement released at a briefing on Saturday.
The symptoms included a swollen leg and a chronic wound on his ankle, said the statement, adding that the abbot's health began to deteriorate on April 22.
The temple in Khlong Luang district of Pathum Thani held a mass gathering of monks and followers on April 22 to mark Earth Day. April 22 is also the abbot's birthday.
Doctors who briefed the media at the temple displayed several pictures showing the symptoms affecting the monk's body, but none of them showed his face.
Phra Sanitwong explained: "Phra Dhammajayo does not want [the public] to see his pictures when he is sick. He wants everybody to see only his pictures during meditation."
Dhammakaya followers have begun a campaign to call for fairness for the abbot, starting in Pathum Thani before spreading to other provinces ahead of the day he is scheduled to meet the DSI.
Investigators want to question Phra Dhammajayo further about hundreds of millions of baht in donations made to him and Wat Dhammakaya. The funds turned out to have been embezzled from the credit union by its former chairman and others. The abbot has admitted to receiving the money but has said he was not aware that the donations were illegaly obtained.