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DSI probing Boonchai’s call to shield controversial abbot

Jun 20. 2016
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By Suriya Patathayo,
Jitraporn S

DTAC founder and chairman Boonchai Bencharongkul is facing a probe for a televised speech that could be seen as an effort to shield Dhammakaya Temple’s controversial abbot from legal proceedings.
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang said yesterday: “I have already instructed our legal team to check the video clip in which Boonchai has encouraged people to meditate at the Dhammakaya Temple. 
“We need to determine whether his speech constitutes the offence of mobilising |people to an illegal gathering [to prevent an arrest].” 
Boonchai spoke via the Dhammakaya Temple’s satellite TV station after the DSI tried to search the temple and arrest its abbot, Phra Dhammachayo, last Thursday. 
The operation failed as thousands of temple followers demanded that Phra Dhammachayo should surrender only when the country returns to full democracy. 
Phra Dhammachayo is wanted on charges of money laundering and accepting of ill-gotten gains in connection with the huge embezzlement scandal at the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative. 
Received Bt1.4 bn in cheques 
A former chief of the |cooperative, Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, is now serving a long jail term in a related case. Evidence shows Phra Dhammachayo and his foundation received Bt1.4 billion from Supachai. 
National Police Office deputy spokesman Pol |Maj-General Songphon Wattanachai said yesterday police would definitely take action against Boonchai if |further investigation showed he had an ulterior motive in encouraging people to head to the Dhammakaya Temple. 
Songphon also pointed out that still photos and video recordings around the Dhammakaya Temple on Thursday were being examined as evidence for proceeding against people who were seen as obstructing the DSI-led operation to arrest Phra Dhammachayo. 
Asked about reports that big tycoons and important government figures were affiliated with Phra Dhammachayo, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said he did not know who these reports referred to. 
“But as for me, I have never gone to the Dhammakaya Temple,” he said. 
In a related development, Ruangkrai Leekitwattana of the Pheu Thai Party submitted a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday against the DSI, claiming that its raid at the Dhammakaya Temple may have been illegitimate. 
“It requested the search warrant after it had already forwarded the case to public prosecutors. By law, the DSI should not have any power to investigate the case further after the case reaches the public prosecutors,” Ruangkrai said. 

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