By THE NATION
Combined with 158 previously filed charges, the total number now stands at 173 cases, most of which
were for buildings erected without permission.
The temple claims structures in its vast compound were for religious purposes and were thus exempt from having to seek permission under the Building Act.Yesterday afternoon a handful of Muang Tha Khlong Municipality officials put up notices saying
“Criminal evidence: do not use, move or damage” at the temple’s buildings, while temple lawyer Thatchanon Pornbaiyok and disciples looked on.Many police complaints have been filed against the controversial temple recently as the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and police were ready to carry out a search to arrest its fugitive former
abbot Phra Dhammachayo.
The monk is wanted on charges of money laundering and receiving stolen items, linked to an embezzlement case involving the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative, as well as a separate land encroachment case in Nakhon Ratchasima.
DSI chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang said that the agency continued to analyse the situation as new Justice Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana had given a clear direction for the DSI to enforce the law strictly.
However, the DSI wanted the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) and administrative monks to step forward and take a more active role in pressuring Phra Dhammachayo, who was believed to be in the temple, to surrender. Society should also press the suspect to enter the justice process to avoid a raid that could lead to confrontation and violence, Paisit said.
The DSI chief also said he expected Suwaphan, who used to oversee the NOB, to co-ordinate with related parties to have Phra Dhammachayo surrender.
Paisit said that his agency was also checking a report that Ong-art Thamnita – the spokesman of the Dhammakaya disciples group who failed to meet police in response to his arrest warrant citing defamation and inciting the public unrest – had fled abroad.
He said officials had not found any immigration information about him leaving the country although no one had seen him recently.