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Disgraced Monks Face Criminal Charges for Wearing Monk Robes

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Disgraced Monks Face Criminal Charges for Wearing Monk Robes

The Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand has said four former high-ranking monks will face charges for wearing monk robes to attend a religious ceremony held at Wat Saket temple in Bangkok.

Sipboworn Kaewngam, spokesman for the National Office of Buddhism said the former monks, including those who used to reside at Wat Sa Ket, might have violated Section 208 of the Criminal Code and be liable to imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to 20,000 baht or both.

The temple’s acting abbot, Phra Theppharatmuni, who presided over the ceremony, might also face a disciplinary charge for consenting to the former monks’ wearing robes, the spokesman said. The former monks were sentenced to suspended jail terms in corruption cases.

They were removed from the monkhood while the case was being processed in 2018.

They were found guilty of violating the money laundering law by embezzling funds from projects on Buddhism promotion.

In 2018, the Counter Corruption Division (CCD) launched an investigation after Pongporn Pramsaneh, director of ONB, lodged a complaint accusing the senior monks of siphoning more than 70 million baht from a Buddhism development fund for Phra Pariyatti Dhamma schools for Pali and dhamma studies.

One of the former monks — former Phra Phrom Sitthi and now Thongchai Sukkho — fled Wat Sa Ket before police raided the temple.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in May 2020 handed down suspended prison terms for two former assistant abbots of the temple.

The court sentenced Sangkom Sangkapat, 49, and Terd Wongcha-um, 49, each to six years and also to 24 months in jail, and a fine of 168,000 baht. They were each found guilty on six charges. Earlier, the CCD investigated 12 cases resulting from two probes into similar crimes.

Source: Bangkok Post

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