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Last fugitive monk, Phra Phrommedhi, nabbed at German airport immigration

Phra Phrommedhi, a former high-ranking monk who fled Thailand over money-laundering allegations, is being held in custody in Germany after failing to pass an airport immigration check.

 

Germany officials arrested the monk, who lost all of his monastic ranks late last month, in response to an arrest warrant issued by Thailand.

Thai police had informed countries via Interpol that Phra Phrommedhi (now known only as Chamnong Dhammajari) was a wanted fugitive.

He and several other high-ranking monks are accused of embezzling state funds for temples.

Five monks were arrested on May 24. Phra Prommedhi, an assistant abbot of Samphanthawongsaram Temple, and Sa Ket Temple’s abbot Phra Phromsitti, however, managed to elude arrests that day.

Due to the serious charges against them, they lost their place on the Sangha Supreme Council (SSC), Thailand’s highest body for monastic affairs. All of the accused monks have been stripped of their monastic status and are now referred to by their common names.

Phra Phromsitti (now known only as Thongchai Sukhayano) surrendered last week.

An informed source said Phra Phrommedhi left his Bangkok-based temple for the border province of Nakhon Phanom.

“He then headed towards Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. From the Ho Chi Minh airport, he boarded a flight to Qatar. And from Qatar, he tried to go to Germany,” the source said.

According to a police source, Chamnong Dhammajari (formerly Phra Phrommedhi) holds a state-official passport that is valid until 2020.

“It was issued back in 2015 because Phra Prommedhi received an invitation to visit a branch of the Dhammakaya Temple,” the source said.

It was reported that National Police Commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda, several senior policemen and public prosecutors had already boarded flights from Thailand to interrogate and accept the hand-over of Chamnong Dhammajari.

Other senior monks in the same case have been detained, defrocked and sent to jail pending the police investigation.

The Nation

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