Dhammajayo warned not to mobilise supporters

Dhammajayo warned not to mobilise supporters

Followers gather at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani as an order is confirmed for the abbot to acknowledge criminal charges with the Department of Special Investigation on Thursday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Followers gather at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani as an order is confirmed for the abbot to acknowledge criminal charges with the Department of Special Investigation on Thursday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

The deadline for controversial abbot Phra Dhammajayo to meet authorities to acknowledge criminal charges remains in force as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha warns him not to mobilise supporters.

The Criminal Court approved a warrant for the arrest of the abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya on May 17 after he had failed to meet officials of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to acknowledge charges of conspiring in money-laundering and receiving stolen property for accepting more than a billion baht of the funds embezzled from Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.

The DSI has demanded the abbot meet investigators on Thursday, May 26.

Lawyers for Phra Dhammajayo submitted a second request to the court for it to withdraw the warrant on Wednesday. The court rejected it as it did on Tuesday, and the deadline remains.

One of the lawyers, Samphan Sermcheep, met DSI authorities for two hours on Wednesday to inquire about bail for his client.

He refused to tell reporters whether the abbot would meet DSI authorities as ordered. A Wat Phra Dhammakaya spokesman insisted that the abbot would not turn himself in, but Mr Samphan said the lawyers had nothing to do with the staff of the temple.

DSI deputy director-general Somboon Sarasit said bail was set at 5 million baht based on liabilities in the case.

DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang said the DSI had not prepared any place to receive Phra Dhammajayo yet.

Prime Minister Prayut said on Wednesday that as a Buddhist he would not fight with a monk but people should realise who divided Buddhists.

He assured that wrongdoers would face the law.

"I will not take sides, but do not mobilise people," Gen Prayut said, when asked to comment on the case.

Tens of thousands of followers have been gathering at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani province lately. Temple staff deny the people are there to prevent the arrest of the abbot.



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