NAKHON PATHOM — Officers trundle into a cabin on a temple’s grounds at the crack of dawn, guns mounted and flashlights shining. When no one responds to their knocks, they sledgehammer two doors and catch a monk sleeping under a mosquito net.
“Open the door! This is the police,” the officers can be heard saying. “Get down!”
Dramatic footage of Thursday’s dawn raid on the temple sanctuary of firebrand monk Buddha Issara was released last night showing the moment of his arrest by a force of police commandos.
The five-minute clip shows police commandos drive into Wat Onoi at about 6am, break down the doors and raise the mosquito net around the infamous monk’s bed to read the charges against him.
Suwit Thongprasert, or Buddha Issara, can be seen getting up from his bed and wrapping himself in robes while police read charges of assaulting police officers and inciting others to violence.
After his Thursday arrest, Buddha Issara was expelled from monkhood. He led 2014 anti-government street protests during which he allegedly extorted a hotel, had his bodyguards beat up police and illegally produced amulets with the royal emblem. For that he was charged with royal forgery, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in jail.