PETCHABUN (AFP): The abbot of a wat in this Isan province has been charged with murdering a woman who was found strangled and dumped in a septic tank, local police said today. Adhikarn Arn Wattanadhamo, the abbot of Wat Nonsawangarom, in Amphur Lomsak, Petchabun, has been charged with robbery and premeditated murder and will be prosecuted, the police said. Last Wednesday police found the body of the woman inside a neighborhood septic tank. Locals said she had been seen frequently with the monk. The woman’s corpse had bruise marks around the neck. On Saturday, Arn was arrested at his home in Petchabun while trying to burn a pile of bloodstained women’s clothing and a ring bearing the name of the murdered woman, the police said. Officers are questioning Arn and are waiting for the results of laboratory tests that they say may lead to a further charge of rape. Arn has denied all charges. Arn’s arrest is the latest in a spate of scandals involving senior Buddhist monks. Last week the secret life of another abbot, Thammathorn Wanchai, was exposed by a news crew who filmed him dressing up as a military officer, driving a luxury car and spending the night with two young women at a house in suburban Bangkok. Thammathorn was swiftly defrocked and faces five years in jail for illegally impersonating a military officer. Coming just days after two other abbots were caught drinking in a karaoke bar, wearing street clothes and disguised with toupées, the Thammatorn affair sparked intense scrutiny on the shortcomings of those in religious life.
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