Tensions rise as DSI draws up a plan to arrest controversial abbot.
SECURITY at the Dhammakaya Temple is intensifying as if to shield its controversial abbot Phra Dhammachayo, who is wanted on charges of money laundering and accepting ill-gotten gains, from arrest.
Yesterday two backhoes reappeared at the main gate to the expansive monastery and more of the temple’s supporters turned up to show their united support for Phra Dhammachayo.
Security measures around the temple in Pathum Thani province have apparently increased after tripartite talks to arrange the abbot’s surrender collapsed on Tuesday.
Tension has also risen in the face of rumours that the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will lead police to raid the temple and arrest Phra Dhammachayo by tomorrow.
Officials of the Dhammakaya Temple strictly searched people and vehicles coming into and out of its compound yesterday.
An arrest warrant for Phra Dhammachayo was issued last month after he repeatedly failed to respond to DSI summonses, claiming he was too ill to do so.
According to the DSI, evidence shows that Phra Dhammachayo and his foundation received more than Bt1.4 billion in cheques from Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, former chief of the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative, who has been convicted and sent to jail in a related embezzlement case.
Counter-Crime Planning Division commander Pol Maj-General Chayapol Chatchaiyadej said yesterday that relevant officials had drawn up a “Kabin 59” plan for Phra Dhammchayo’s case.
“But we have not yet decided on when to carry out the plan,” he said, adding that Metropolitan Police Division 1 had prepared 600 policemen for the operation.
“But we can’t disclose details,” Chayapol said.
He said Deputy National Police Commissioner General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul and Provincial Police Region 1 commissioner Pol Lt-General Chaiwat Ketworachai would supervise the operation, if launched. A source said National Police Commissioner Pol General Chaktip Chaijinda had emphasised that the operation must ensure no violence breaks out and must seek to prevent the intervention of a third party.
“But Srivara and Chaiwat have planned some measures to deal with the situation in the event that turmoil erupts during the operation,” the source said.
Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya commented that authorities had tried their best to ensure the operation goes smoothly, as seen by their efforts to arrange the tripartite talks that sought the help of Pathum Thani’s monastic chief.
Paiboon suggested officials could gradually to take action against persons trying to obstruct their efforts to arrest Phra Dhammachayo.
He said it was possible to “record their activities when officials show up and use that as evidence to arrest them one by one”.
Ong-art Thamnita, the spokesman for Dhammakaya Temple’s followers, blamed the DSI for the collapse of the tripartite |talks. “In fact, the first two rounds of the talks went well. But suddenly, the DSI forwarded the case [against Phra Dhammachayo] to public prosecutors,” he said.
Phra Maha Nopporn Punyachayo, the assistant director of the Dhammakaya Temple’s corporate communications office, yesterday insisted that Phra Dhammachayo was ill and receiving treatment inside the temple.
“We urge officials to carry out their operation softly for the sake of peace,” he said.
He said he was worried that a third party might intervene during the officials’ operations, which might cause grave damage to the country.
Phra Maha Nopporn Punyachayo refused to comment on the collapse of the tripartite talks.
National Police Office deputy spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said that at this point it was still not possible to confirm whether Phra Dhammachayo was inside the Dhammakaya Temple.
“But definitely, the Immigration Bureau is on alert to prevent him from running out of the country,” he said.