SUKHOTAI — Soldiers confiscated nearly one million baht in cash and several firearms during a surprise raid on a Buddhist temple in Sukhotai province this morning.
Maj.Gen. Padung Yingpaiboonsook, a local commander of the junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), conducted the raid of Sawang Arom Temple following complaints from local residents about the "inappropriate behaviour" of monks at the temple.
Soldiers said they found two firearms, radio equipment, pornographic materials, and approximately 966,000 baht in cash in the search.
Cpt. Chirapat Sonsakul, deputy commander of the NCPO's intelligence unit in the province, said the abbot collected the money by soliciting donations from local residents, ostensibly to repair one of the chapels on the compound. However, the renovation never took place and the abbot and his deputy pocketed the money for themselves, Cpt. Chirapat said.
Cpt. Chirapat said the abbot will be prosecuted for possessing unregistered firearms and conducting donation fraud.
Since the military staged a coup against the elected government on 22 May, soldiers have taken an active role as law enforcement officers. Under the authority of martial law, which the army imposed two days before the coup, soldiers are not required to obtain search warrants before staging raids. Over the past few months, soldiers have busted a handful of organised crime networks, gambling rings, and drug dealers.
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