Court approves Dhammajayo arrest warrant

Court approves Dhammajayo arrest warrant

Samphan Sermcheep, a lawyer for Wat Dhammakaya, talks to reporters when he comes to the Department of Special Investigation to submit new documents on Tuesday. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Samphan Sermcheep, a lawyer for Wat Dhammakaya, talks to reporters when he comes to the Department of Special Investigation to submit new documents on Tuesday. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

The Criminal Court has approved the warrant for the arrest of Phra Dhammajayo, the controversial abbot of Wat Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani, as requested by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

But DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang said investigators would give him another seven days before "taking action".

"We'll send him a letter asking him to acknowledge the charges within seven days. After all, he claimed to be ill. Besides, we don't want to see clashes or confrontation," he said. 

Earlier on Tuesday, DSI investigators and prosecutors met to decide their next move after Samphan Sermcheep, the lawyer for Wat Dhammakaya, resubmitted medical records to prove that the monk was really ill and giving him Phra Dhammajayo's power of attorney.

This was the second time the DSI asked for the documents since it found the papers brought earlier by the lawyer were inadequate.

The investigator said on Tuesday the resubmiitted documents were again incomplete. The medical records were unusable because they were issued by Sahavej Clinic, a facility located inside the Dhammakaya temple, and the letter of attorney was not properly signed, they said.

Therefore, the investigators agreed unanimously to take all documented evidence, both of the DSI's and the abbot's, to the Criminal Court to seek an arrest warrant for Phra Dhammajayo. Its earlier request on April 26 was rejected by the court on grounds the abbot was not a flight risk.

Mr Samphan filed a petition against the DSI's move like he had done the last time, but the court approved the warrant on Tuesday evening.

The DSI chief declined to say how the monk would be arrested and whether a team of doctors would be sent to examine the monk if the court approved the arrest warrant, saying that the court had yet to deliver its ruling.

As for video clips posted in social media showing Phra Dhammajayo outside the temple performing a monastic function and releasing birds on May 4, Pol Col Paisit said he had not seen them. He added they were probably recorded a while back but were reposted.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Samphan said after submitting new documents to the DSI that Phra Dhammajayo had become seriously allergic to his medications and felt dizzy.

The monk's team of four doctors had advised that he should rest for two months. Therefore, he had also sought the postponement of Phra Dhammajayo's reporting to the DSI, said the lawyer.

Mr Samphan declined to comment when asked why the monk developed this symptom so suddenly since Mr Samphan had said nothing about it on Monday. He  said the question should be taken up with his doctors.

"I can assure you that this is not a stalling tactic. Since the abbot is sick, I have to report to the investigators. The temple would be pleased to allow the DSI to bring its own doctors to examine Phra Dhammajayo, but they must be specialists in the monk's sickness. The four doctors who are treating Phra Dhammajayo will decide on this matter," Mr Samphan said.

The abbot is accused of involvement in laundering money and receiving stolen property worth 1.2 billion baht in connection with the 12-billion-baht Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative embezzlement case.

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