Monk caught cavorting in guise of Army officer

BANGKOK (AFP): A Buddhist abbot caught masquerading as a well-heeled military officer was being investigated by police today after his secret life of luxury cars, bars and girls was exposed. Abbot Thammathorn Wanchai was defrocked and arrested when his illicit activities were broadcast nationwide by a television crew who had followed him for days. Their report showed him leaving his temple in a black Mercedes and stopping briefly to don a special forces uniform over his saffron robes. Arriving at a house in suburban Bangkok, he greeted two young women with whom he then spent the night. The following morning, he went about his religious duties, which included, among other things, receiving donations from devotees. During a police raid yesterday, “Colonel Wanchai”, as he called himself in military persona, was ordered out of his car as it approached his temple in Suphan Buri. When he refused, undercover police dragged him out of the vehicle, whereupon his shirt went awry, revealing the robes he was wearing underneath. Following the arrest, a television report showed police carrying pornographic magazines, women’s underwear, condoms, bottles of whiskey and a toupee seized from the embattled monk. Police said today that Thammathorn would be charged with impersonating a military officer, and could face up to five years in jail if found guilty. He is also to be investigated by religious authorities. Thammathorn — now plain Wanchai Oonsap, after being defrocked — joins a growing number of monks to be disgraced in recent months. Others have been found carousing in karaoke bars or caught sexually abusing young girls. Press reports say the monks are part of a “Chivas Regal” gang, named after their favourite libation, and that many of the gang’s members are still at large.

Phuket News
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