Dec 27, 2016

Thai police call off raid on scandal-hit Buddhist temple

The temple complex is located near the Thai capital's Don Muang International Airport. (Credit: Reuters)
Radio Australia
27 December 2016


Thai police call off a raid to arrest a prominent Buddhist monk wanted for suspected money laundering after devotees barricaded entrances to his sprawling temple complex in a Bangkok suburb.

Thai police have called off a raid to arrest a prominent Buddhist monk wanted for suspected money laundering after devotees barricaded entrances to his sprawling temple complex in a Bangkok suburb.

The Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple commands a huge following and is supported by influential Thai politicians and business folk, but critics say it exploits people and religion for money.

Thailand's Attorney-General said in November it would charge Abbot Phra Dhammachayo and four others on charges of conspiracy to launder money and receive stolen goods.

Police have tried in vain over the past few months to question the abbot and enter the temple complex, located near the Thai capital's Don Muang International Airport.

With police poised to make another attempt on Tuesday, hundreds of monks and devotees were seen inside the temple.

Some were barricading entrances, while others wore face masks and chanted Buddhist sutras.

Police removed part of a metal fence outside the complex but by early afternoon they had withdrawn from the site.

"We have cleared the fence from the area because it was illegally constructed," Khempak Photipak, the officer in charge of the police operation said.

"We did not move into the temple today because there are too many people and we did not receive orders to do so."

He gave no further details nor did he say when police might try to get into the temple again.

Temple officials said there were around 10,000 people in the entire complex.

A series of corruption, sex and drugs scandals involving monks at various temples has cast Thai Buddhism under a harsh light in recent years.

Reuters



http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-12-27/thai-police-call-off-raid-on-scandalhit-buddhist-temple/1642202

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