Rogue Thai monk on the run in Europe

Soldiers and Buddhist monks are seen during an inspection of the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple, in Pathum Thani province, Thailand on March 10, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
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Thai authorities are verifying information that a fugitive monk facing hundreds of charges including money laundering and receiving stolen assets has left Thailand for a European country with the help of his followers.

Chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang, said the Immigration Bureau does not have any record of Phra Dhammachayo leaving the country, the Bangkok Post reported.

But he said the 72-year-old monk might have left the country through a natural border route rather than a formal immigration checkpoint, according to the report.

He added that the DSI will verify the information with European countries.

Phra Dhammachayo, the former abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, faces more than 300 separate charges of money laundering, obstructing police officers and illegal construction.

He is also said to have accepted stolen assets in connection with the multi-billion-baht Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) scandal.

In March, Thailand ended a 23-day search for the monk at the massive Wat Dhammakaya temple after about 4,000 soldiers failed to find any trace of him there.

The DSI conducted the search at the unfinished Boonraksa Building, north of the temple complex, where the monk was believed to be hiding.

But the authorities later believed he was not ill, as he had claimed, and is on the run. – Straits Times

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