No trace of wanted monk in controversial temple: Thai authorities

2017-02-17 15:59:35 GMT2017-02-17 23:59:35(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BANGKOK, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Thai authorities resumed their search on Friday for Phra Dhammajayo, former abbot of the biggest temple in Thailand, for the second day but found no trace of the wanted.

Police said they however discovered a bed with an orange robe covering several pillows and also a hyperbaric chamber, a high pressure oxygen device that can be used to promote healing in the room where they were expected to find Phra Dhammajayo.

Phra Sanitwong Wuttiwangso, the temple's head of public relations, said the pillows were put there to keep dust away from the bed instead of being arranged to look like Phra Dhammajayo is still lying on bed.

He again told reporters that he had not seen Phra Dhammajayo for long.

Police also found a 1.5-km tunnel, spilt into two routes-dug under the temple's main building, a flying-saucer shaped golden stupa, Thai media Bangkok Post reported, which is believed to be used by the ex-abbot as a place to hide.

"It only has one entrance but it does not go outside of the temple," said Worranan Srilum, deputy spokesman for Thailand's Department of Special Investigation.

He said the temple is so sprawling that it takes time to search the wanted monk but he believes the monk is still somewhere and they will not stop the hunt.

The temple, unlike traditional Buddhist temples in the region, covers a land of about 3.2 square-km.

Phra Dhammajayo, 72, is wanted on several arrest warrants for alleged laundering money, receiving stolen goods, as well as taking over land unlawfully to build meditation centers in Loei, Nakhon Ratchasima and Phangnga provinces.