Senior Thai monks arrested for embezzlement and robbery
Prominent figures from the Bangkok Shutdown movement four years ago are among those arrested
By Wassayos Ngamkham
Some 200 police commandos made coordinated raids on Buddhist temples around Thailand and arrested senior monks for alleged embezzlement, including members of the Sangha Supreme Council, and well-known political monk Buddha Isara for alleged robbery during the Bangkok Shutdown protests.
The elite forces from the Crime Suppression Division had search and arrest warrants for the 6am raids at Wat Sam Phraya, Wat Sa Ket and Wat Samphanthawong in Bangkok, Wat Onoi in Nakhon Pathom and Wat Kudeethong in Sing Buri.
At Wat Onoi in Kamphaeng Saen district, police arrested activist abbot Phra Buddha Isara, who gained front-page notoriety for his support of the Bangkok Shutdown movement in 2013-14. He was held on a charge of supporting robbery during the demonstrations led by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
At Wat Sam Phraya in Phra Nakhon district, police arrested both the abbot, Phra Phrom Dilok, and his secretary, Phra Atthakit Sophon. They were charged with temple fund embezzlement.
Phra Phrom Dilok is also a member of the Sangha Supreme Council and the ecclesiastical governor of Bangkok. Phra Atthakit is secretary to the ecclesiastical governor of Bangkok.
Phra Phrom Sitthi, abbot of Wat Sa Ket (Golden Mount) in Pomprap Sattruphai district, and Phra Phrom Methee, assistant abbot of Wat Samphanthawong in Sampanthawong district, were still being sought. They were wanted on charges of embezzlement of temple funds.
Phra Phrom Sitthi and Phra Phrom Methee are members of the Sangha Supreme Council. Phra Phrom Sitthi is the 10th ecclesiastical region governor. Phra Phrom Methee is the 4th-7th ecclesiastical region governor.
Phra Sri Khunaporn and Phra Wichit Thammaporn, assistant abbots of Wat Sa Ket, were arrested. Also apprehended there was Tawit Sangyu, a temple official. They were charged with embezzling funds from a Buddhist school and money laundering.
Police carried arrest warrants for seven monks at Wat Sam Phraya, Wat Sa Ket and Wat Samphanthawong in cases of alleged temple fund embezzlement and money laundering.
All the arrested senior monks were taken to the headquarters of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok for questioning and legal procedures.