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Cops to charge five for abetting ex-monk caught in Germany

BANGKOK: Police are expected to bring charges against three Thais and two Lao nationals for allegedly helping fugitive former Phra Phrom Methee to flee while he was being hunted in relation to a temple funds embezzlement scandal.

crimecorruptionimmigrationpolicereligionBangkok Post

Tuesday 5 June 2018, 09:17AM


Phra Phrom Methee reportedly fled Wat Sa Ket (the Golden Mount) just before the police raid last week, and wound up in Germany via Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Qatar. Photo: Bangkok Post / File

Phra Phrom Methee reportedly fled Wat Sa Ket (the Golden Mount) just before the police raid last week, and wound up in Germany via Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Qatar. Photo: Bangkok Post / File

The former assistant abbot of Wat Samphanthawong, whose layman name is Chamnong Iamintra, has reportedly now been detained in Germany.

His detention comes more than a week after authorities on May 24 raided his temple, along with Wat Sa Ket and Wat Sam Phraya, when some senior monks were busted on suspicion of being involved in the scandal.

A police source in Nakhon Phanom, from where the former monk was reported to have fled to Laos, said five people are likely to face charges for helping him escape the clutches of the law.

They are the former Phra Phrom Methee’s close disciple, known as “Joom”, his driver, a monk of Wat Pa Sukontharak in Nakhon Phanom’s Renu Nakhon district, a Lao woman and her son.

Joom was said to hold a significant stake in an SET-listed mining company. She is being investigated for her role in helping the former monk escape.

A bronze Toyota Alphard that police believe was used in the escape was found at Wat Pa Sukontharak.

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The Lao woman, named Jan, was suspected of making travel arrangements for the former monk in her home country.

Maj Gen Suwichan Yankittikul, the police commissioner for Nakhon Phanom, said consideration was being made as to whether the arrest warrants would be sought by his office or the Crime Suppression Division.

Police sources meanwhile revealed that national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda and his team had arrived in Frankfurt, where he would identify the former monk with German authorities.

The fugitive ex-monk was reported to have been detained at an immigration office at the airport there following his arrival.

One of the sources said Thai authorities contacted German officials to try and persuade them to refuse him entry, which resulted in his visa being withdrawn. His official Thai passport was also reported to have been revoked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The source said that police had booked seats on a Thai Airways flight to send him home.

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