A Thai monk has been defrocked and then arrested for shooting a man living in the same temple at Wat Mongkhol Nimit in Bang Sao Thong district of Samut Prakan. The former monk claims he only shot in self-defense.
Local police arrested Phra Apiram Ruengthip, 46, at his living quarters at Wat Mongkhol Nimit in tambon Bang Sao Thong on Friday evening.
Pol Col Voravut Pankhao, chief of the Bang Sao Thong police station said they seized an unregistered hand gun with two bullets from the monk. He had hidden the hand gun in a black plastic bag containing empty plastic bottles.
Police then took the monk to meet the abbot so he could be defrocked. He was taken to the Bang Sao Thong police station. According to Thai law, a Buddhist monk can be questioned but may not be detained in jail unless he is defrocked first.
The arrest followed a hand gun attack on a man, identified later as Samret Kasemrat, 42, who lived in the temple. According to police Mr Samret was hit in the right testicle and was rushed to Bang Bo Hospital.
The defrocked monk told police he had been in the monkhood for 4-5 years. In recent months, belongings at the temple had often been stolen. He then bought a pistol and patrolled around the temple at night.
The monk fired 2 shots at victim
On Thursday night, while he was patrolling behind the temple, he saw Mr Samret walking around the area. The man allegedly scolded him with rude words and walked toward him. He also claimed the man was carrying something in one of his hands.
The former monk said he asked Mr Samret to stop, but he ignored him. This prompted him to fire a warning shot into the water.
However, Mr Samret continued to approach him, forcing him to fire shots at the man in self-defense, he said. Also claiming he did not know where they hit. After the shooting, he returned to his living quarters.
Police initially pressed charges of attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm. He is being held at the police station for further legal action.
According to the Bangkok Post, crimes involving guns have become a growing problem in Thailand.
The number of unregistered guns in the country has been estimated at around 4 million, compared with 6 million registered legally, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey.