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DSI lodges defamation complaint against temple spokesman

Jun 27. 2016
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By Donrawee Sudphum,
Marut Boonn

THE Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has taken action against Ong-art Thamnita, spokesman for Dhammakaya Temple followers, over alleged defamation.

The DSI lodged the defamation complaint with the Crime Suppression Division yesterday.

The complaint focuses on Ong-art’s speeches during a recent press conference on the DMC channel, the so-called Dhammakaya channel.

His speeches targeted DSI efforts against Dhammakaya Temple abbot Phra Dhammachayo, who is accused of money laundering and accepting many millions of dollars embezzled from the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.

“His speech was misleading and damaged the reputation of the DSI,” Mahitorn Klannurak, head of the DSI Legal Division, said yesterday.

Crime Suppression Division deputy chief Pol Maj-General Charn Wimonsri said a team would be set up to look into the complaint.

“We will coordinate with the Technology Crime Suppression Division in gathering evidence,” he said.

Following the DSI’s complaint, Ong-art said he had not meant to defame the agency but had just raised questions about the proceedings against Phra Dhammachayo.

“I just said in principle that government agencies should not have double standards,” he said.

On Saturday, Ong-art also defended the establishment of World Peace Valley facilities in Nakhon Ratchasima, saying they were built on land that was properly licensed.

World Peace Valley dispute

An ongoing investigation by the Social Development and Welfare Department has found that the facilities span more than 499 rai (80 hectares) but about 205 rai do not have proper land use documents.

The department’s deputy director-general Narong Khongkham said yesterday the land was certified by documents as belonging to the Tawandhamma Foundation, which is affiliated with the Dhammakaya Temple.

The investigation centres on whether the land is being used improperly without the department’s permission because the centre is inside the self-help settlement of Lam Takhong.

“By law, although land plots inside such a settlement can be transferred, it is still mandatory that the land plots are used for agricultural purposes. The utilisation of land for other purposes must receive prior permission from our department,” Narong said.

He said his team would further investigate World Peace Valley land plots that are not properly documented.

 

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