Peace TV Interviews Lawyer: Legal Code Supports Venerable Dhammajayo's Innocence

Peace TV’s “Discussing the News and Talking about Dhamma” host,  Assistant Professor Dr. Silp Rasri interviews a representative from the legal world, Lawyer Arkom Rattanapojanaroj, and an expert on the Monastic Code of Discipline, Dr. Jamnong Kantika.

In the interview, the lawyer, Mr. Arkom, refers to Section 39(2) in the Criminal Procedure Code to challenge DSI and affirm Venerable Dhammajayo’s innocence - there is no need for him to surrender.

Summarized points from the talk show via Winnews on June 5, 2016 (Thai): http://www.winnews.tv/news/4057

Peace TV’s “Discussing the News, Talking about Dhamma” on June 4, 2016 (Thai): https://youtu.be/bYXNi6Eo2-g

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Key Points from the Interview:

Question: How does the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative case involve Phra (Venerable) Dhammajayo?

Answer: Phra Dhammajayo was the person who received donations from Mr. Supachai Srisupa-aksorn. The question is: Does the recipient know, or were there any arrangements with the donor? If there weren’t any arrangements, did the recipient know that the money was illegally obtained?

The donations were in the form of checks placed in envelopes. Did the Abbot ask at that moment the amount of the check? No. Did the Abbot ask if the donations were for the temple or an individual? No, he didn’t, but he knew definitively that the donations were for the temple. Since the donations were meant for the temple and not the Abbot, the charges should be filed against the temple. You cannot charge the Abbot when he was merely representing the temple.

 

Question: In the monastic code of discipline, when a person offers money as donations, is there a rule requiring monks to inquire its source before accepting it?

Answer: There is no such rule on this. In my opinion, if the donation is significant, [the monk] might only be curious.

If no questions were asked, then no information was acquired. If no fact was known, how can we imply that the recipient had intent? You can’t fault a person who had no knowledge.

 

Question: How did [Venerable Dhammajayo] become involved in the case? How could DSI make these accusations?

Answer: There are two types of criminal cases.

  1. National criminal case, which cannot be withdrawn

  2. Individual criminal case, which can be settled out of court and withdrawn, and once withdrawn, the filed criminal case is terminated.

According to the Criminal Procedure Code:

“Section 39. The right to institute a criminal prosecution is extinguished as follows: ...(2) In case of a compoundable offence, by the withdrawal of the complaint or the prosecution or by lawful compromise,...”

https://www.unodc.org/tldb/pdf/Thailand/THA_Crim_Pro_Thai_EN.pdf (Retrieved June 9, 2016)

What this legal code means: The right to carry out the criminal prosecution ends for an individual criminal case when:

  1. The complaint is withdrawn, or

  2. The individual is prosecuted, or

  3. There is a lawful compromise, such as settling out of court.

What this means for Wat Phra Dhammakaya:

This case had been filed against Wat Phra Dhammakaya, but was later settled out of court and withdrawn. This satisfies the requirements that the case be closed under Criminal Procedure Code Section 39(2). An individual case is a legal matter between two parties. No one, including the police or prosecutor, can interfere.

 

Question: If Wat Phra Dhammakaya’s case had already been withdrawn, why does the case still exist?

Answer: In situations like this, we have to ask what’s going on in the country. Looking at it from a legal perspective, however, there was no authority to do so.

Whether it’s a case about money laundering or accepting stolen money, the stolen money had to come from an illegal activity. Embezzlement means it was unlawful.

“But the case was terminated because [the credit union] had it withdrawn. According to Criminal Procedure Code Section 39(2), the case was completely terminated; it cannot be revived; the same case cannot be refiled.”

 

Question: But [DSI] claimed that a national criminal case cannot be withdrawn?

Answer: This case is not a national criminal case; it’s an individual case.

There are two types of criminal cases:

  1. National criminal case

  2. Individual criminal case such as embezzlement or fraud

 

Question: Is DSI doing the right thing by issuing both the summons and arrest warrant?

Answer: Honestly, [DSI] acted without authority. In its request at the court, DSI did not provide information that this case had been withdrawn and tried to convince the court to agree with them. And the court believed them.

The information used to request an arrest warrant was not clear, and probably led the court to believe that there was perpetration, and thus, issue the arrest warrant.

“Actually, if documentation showing that the previous case had been withdrawn was shown to the court, everything would have ended. [I] confirm that the suit for money laundering and accepting stolen money absolutely cannot proceed.”

 

Question: That’s equivalent to saying DSI acted illegally?

Answer: I’m not accusing anyone; I’m confirming that according to the law, the actions did not follow Section 39(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. It was a case of individual wrongdoing, and the complaint had already been withdrawn.

“The case of money laundering and accepting stolen property is based on a previous case filed by Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative. The credit union already withdrew the complaint and there was no basis for guilt, so where did they acquire the new basis from?"

 

Question: At this time, an arrest warrant has been issued. What are the steps in acquiring an arrest warrant?

Answer: DSI claimed that a national criminal offence is legitimate and actions of this nature are grounds for an arrest warrant. And since two summonses had been issued by DSI, the court issued the arrest warrant.

“But the person who filed the request probably did not show documentation from the original case that had been withdrawn to the court. If the court saw it, the court definitely would not have issued the arrest warrant. And DSI did not have the authority to investigate further, even in the slightest.”

 

Question: At this moment, there’s an arrest warrant and a call for the Abbot to surrender. However, if Wat Phra Dhammakaya says that he’s ill, will he have to enter the judicial process?

Answer: That’s not necessary.

“Just present evidence of the court’s ruling that allowed for the case to be withdrawn and its case number to DSI, and ask under what authority are they using to proceed with this case?”

If a case that has been withdrawn is submitted to the courts, DSI would certainly lose face.

I’ve never seen DSI mention doing such a thing.

***The most important point: Since the very beginning, DSI did not have the authority or the legal right to proceed with the case.***

 

Question: Should Phra Dhammajayo turn himself in?

Answer: No, he should not.

“Because he has not done anything wrong.”

 

Question: They are about to arrest Venerable Dhammajayo. Does he have to enter the judicial process and fight the case?

Answer: No, he doesn’t.

You have to ask DSI: When they requested the arrest warrant, what evidence was presented to the court? For example, did they show documentation regarding the case that had been withdrawn to the court?

If not, that means DSI tried to avoid and conceal pertinent facts from the court, misleading the court to agree with issuing an arrest warrant.

“What I’m saying is based on the law; Phra Dhammajayo has not done anything wrong. I’m not taking any sides. I’m speaking from the perspective of the law. If I’m wrong, then you can sue me. I’m willing to go to court.”

“DSI does not have the authority. Why are they doing it? I don’t know.”