Thai police fail to find fugitive monk in temple search
By Aukkaraporn Niyomyat
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai police failed to find a fugitive Buddhist monk wanted on money-laundering charges in a two-day search through the country's biggest monastery, but will not stop the hunt, a spokesman said on Friday.
The military government used an emergency law on Thursday to let police explore the scandal-hit Dhammakaya Temple after months of failing to get it to hand over its former abbot, Phra Dhammachayo, in a politicised money-laundering case.
The Dhammakaya Temple has said the monk, 72, is too sick to face questioning and has not been seen for months.
"We searched the entire temple, every building, every room, and didn't find the individual under arrest warrants. But we will continue to search around the temple," Woranan Srilam of the Department for Special Investigation told reporters.
Some forces would remain deployed at the temple, he said.
At 1,000 acres (400 hectares), the temple in a Bangkok suburb is nearly 10 times the size of the Vatican City.
The temple has been a rare institution in defying the military government. Opposition from political parties and activists has largely been silenced since a coup in 2014.
Phra Dhammachayo faces charges of conspiracy to launder money and receive stolen goods, as well as taking over land unlawfully to build meditation centres. His aides dismiss the accusations as politically motivated. Continued...