BANGKOK, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- A Buddhist monk from Wat Dhammakaya temple said Sunday that Pra Dhammajayo, the former abbot of the temple who is charged of money laundering and receiving stolen goods, had fled the first day when Thai authorities raided the temple.
Phra Thammasak Jaruthammo, a monk who has lived in the temple for 30 years, said the wanted monk Pra Dhammajayo fled on Thursday and is now hiding somewhere near the temple because he is ill and cannot travel too far, according to Thai media Khaosod.
Phra Thammasak told reporters that he released the secrets because he doesn't agree with high ranking monks of the temple, who know that Pra Dhammajayo is no longer here but still let authorities to come in to create clashes.
There are some small clashes between Thai authorities and monks and disciples just out side of the temple on Sunday.
Earlier on the day, Thailand's Department of Special Investigation (DIS) issued an ultimatum for non-residents of the temple to exit the compound by 3 p.m. no matter whether they are monks or lay followers.
Authorities also asked residents of the temple to register with their ID cards and said any who disobeyed their order could face one year in jail or a fine of up to 20,000 baht( 517 U.S. dollars).
Thai government declared on Thursday that the vast compound of Wat Dhammakaya, covering a land of some 3.2 square kilometers in Pathum Thani province, as an area under control and subject to a search by DSI officers and police for Pra Dhammajayo.
However, many disciples and monks, defying orders of authorities, gathered around two gates of the temple and have stopped officers from getting in since 1 p.m..
DSI thus summoned 14 monks, including former abbot Phra Dhammachayo, the acting abbot Phra Dattajivo, and the temple spokesman Phra Sanitwong Wutthiwangso of the temple to report at a local police station in Pathum Thani within 6 p.m. on Sunday, but until 7 p.m. none of the summoned monks showed up.
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.
The temple itself is very controversial in Thai society. Though it has a large number of followers, many Thais said the temple uses religion to make money.