Monday, September 16, 2019

Thai police unable to grill fugitive monk in Frankfurt

Jun 05. 2018
Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan
Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan
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By The Nation

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German authorities have yet to allow Thai police to question Phra Phrommedhi, the high-ranking monk suspected of laundering money who fled to Frankfurt and is being detained there in custody, Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said on Tuesday.

Prawit could not say whether the police team led by national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda would be able to escort the fugitive monk back to Thailand on Wednesday as planned.

He said the team had purchased 14 seats on a Bangkok-bound Thai Airways flight, including one for the monk accused of embezzling state funds intended for temple development.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha meanwhile declared that he had received no formal report about Phra Phrommedhi’s apprehension in Germany.

Nor could Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai confirm a news report saying the monk had applied for asylum in Germany, foiling Thai police efforts to interrogate him. The vetting process could take up to three months.

Phra Phrommedhi

Don told reporters to ask Chakthip’s team about that matter but said the Thai Embassy in Berlin had not notified his ministry of any such action.

Police in Bangkok raided three temples on May 24 intending to arrest seven senior monks accused of embezzling state funds.

Phra Phrommedhi, former assistant abbot of Wat Samphanthawongsaram, and Phra Phromsitti, former abbot of Wat Sa Ket, eluded police that day, but the former surrendered earlier this week and, on being denied bail, was defrocked and placed in custody.

Phra Phrommedhi, who fled first to Laos, was detained by German immigration on his arrival at Frankfurt Airport on Friday.

It was surmised that he would go to Germany in hope of securing help from the Wat Dhammakaya network.

Dhammakaya has more than 20 temples or “coordination centres” in Europe.

Seven of the centres are in Germany – in Berlin, Bavaria, Hamburg, Schwarzwald (the Black Forest in Baden-Wurttemberg), Heilbronn, Nordrhein Westfalen and Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Frankfurt.

Phra Phrommedhi performed religious rites at the Bavarian temple in 2011 and 2015, on the latter occasion also heading a committee conducting dharma examinations for monks.

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