By Boonchu Sritripop
The Loei Provincial Court has issued an arrest warrant against the Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani and its abbot Phra Dhammachayo for alleged encroachment of forestland to build a monastic construction, provincial police deputy commander Pol Colonel Pit
Pitipat, the lead investigator in the case, said that in addition to applying for the arrest warrants on Monday, charges were also filed against the site's caretaker Sakchai Mongkholkhekha, who surrendered to police Tuesday.
The caretaker faces a charge of conspiring to encroach forestland, punishable by up to five years in prison, and/or a fine of Bt50,000.
Pitipat said the arrest warrant for the abbot had been sent to police precints nationwide and that the case should be concluded by next month.
The move followed an operation by police and officials on July 14, led by deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, to reclaim the Wat Pa Himawan in Phu Rua district that people in the Dhammakaya network had allegedly built on encroached forestland.
The subsequent investigation brought to light the illegal issuance of a "Nor Sor 3 Kor" land-right document in Phra Dhammachayo for a 129-rai plot that also allegedly included 45 rais of Phu Pueai Forest Reserve as well as Phu Khithao and Phu Rua forests.