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Dhammachayo case hinges on new medical diagnosis

Jun 03. 2016
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By THE NATION

THE MEDICAL Council of Thailand will assign a team of seven doctors next week to examine Phra Dhammachayo, abbot of Dhammakaya Temple, if the monk gives his consent and allows the team to make details of their diagnosis public, council president Dr Somsak
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday ordered an investigation into the alleged involvement of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) after former UDD guards have reportedly been seen inside Dhammakaya Temple, which has put up barbed wire and other defences around the temple compound.
The premier said precautionary measures would be taken to prevent a repeat of the 2010 violent clash between protesters and law enforcement as the abbot refuses to hear charges against him brought by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on money-laundering and related charges.
 
Loyal disciples
The government is worried there could be dangerous incidents because a large number of disciples believe the abbot is innocent, while the DSI has evidence to prosecute the monk on charges of money laundering and receiving ill-gotten wealth in connection with a bankrupt savings cooperative.
Prayut said the government has to ensure the safety of everyone in the compound, where supporters have set up checkpoints controlling the flow of people. According to the premier, there are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people inside the temple, and if anyone is injured there will be serious consequences.
A doctor who treated Phra Dhammachayo earlier submitted a request to the Medical Council of Thailand to send medical specialists to diagnose the monk, since the DSI and other authorities need verification about the monk’s deep vein thrombosis condition.
In response, council president Somsak said the professional grouping would only be involved if there is written consent from the monk for the council to examine him and he allows them to make the details of the diagnosis public.
Somsak said two members of the council and five other specialists would be assigned to verify the monk’s condition premised on a previous diagnosis.
Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang, director-general of the DSI, said an independent medical verification is needed before authorities could determine if they have to formally deliver the charges inside the temple, since an earlier statement on the abbot’s condition issued by a nearby hospital is invalid.
If Phra Dhammachayo is seriously ill and there is sufficient medical reason for him to remain at the temple, the DSI could enter the temple to serve charges, Paisit said, adding that if the monk does not allow an independent medical verification then there is no other choice but to enter the compound.
Meanwhile, supporters have put up a large sign at one of the Pathum Thani compound’s entrances, which says the temple is for prayers and not affiliated with any political groups, in response to the reports about former UDD guards.
About 300 monks from Nakorn Ratchasima and nearby provinces also visited the temple yesterday to show moral support for Phra Dhammachayo.

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