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Wanted monk Wiraphon being extradited today

Jul 18. 2017
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By The Nation

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NOTORIOUS former monk Wiraphon Sukphon, or Nen Kham, is scheduled to return to Thailand tonight after he decided not to appeal against an extradition ruling by a US Court in California.

Wiraphon, 38, was arrested in the US last year at the request of Thailand’s Office of the Attorney-General as he is wanted in Thailand on charges of fraud, sexual harassment against a juvenile, and money laundering of about Bt40 million.

He is due to arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport at about 10pm. 

A team of Thai officers was sent to the US to escort him back to face prosecution in the Kingdom after American authorities informed the Office of the Attorney-General of the extradition ruling. 

They travelled to the US even before they knew whether or not Wiraphon would appeal. Wiraphon, who has reportedly been out of the monkhood since his arrest, has been in jail since a US court denied a bail request.

Before fleeing Thailand, the then monk was known for his extravagant lifestyle, including his use of brand-name products and travelling by private jets, despite the fact that he was still in the monkhood. A video clip released in 2013 showed him travelling by personal jet, carrying a Louis Vuitton bag and wearing brand-name sunglasses.

He was a former head of Wat Pakhantitham forest monastery in Si Sa Ket province. 

He was praised by his followers as a devout monk and helped earn popularity for the monastery. 

However, a series of his alleged notorious behaviour was revealed later.

Another clip, showing a man who looked like Wiraphon and a woman having sex, went viral. He maintained that the man on the video was his brother. A woman has claimed in Si Sa Ket court that Wiraphon had fathered her child and she was ready to have a DNA test to back up her claim. 

She filed for compensation of Bt40 million from him.

He reportedly fled to France and eventually to the US after a series of scandals and allegations and his jet-setting lifestyles were revealed. His stories caught the attention of some foreign news agencies.

And when he fled to the US, he posted photos with luxurious houses and cars while wearing his yellow robes. 

In the US, he was said to have been residing at Kantibaramee monastery in San Diego, California.

During the DSI’s moves to indict him, about Bt2 billion in his bank accounts as well as some plots of land and houses, were seized pending trial.

According to procedure, when Wiraphon returns to Thailand, officials from the Department of Special Investigation will detain him before notifying him of all charges and then question him. He will be handed over to public prosecutors of the Special Litigation Department who will submit the case for consideration. 

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