Body of former dean monk still unaccounted for as royal funeral set for tomorrow

The Sakhon Nakhon provincial police are still investigating and finding the body of the former dean monk after it disappeared from a refrigerated glass coffin five days before the royal funeral will be held tomorrow.

The former dean monk and abbot of Wat Sirimongkol, Phra Khru Sophon Thammaphiwat, died on January 27 this year but his body was kept in the coffin for 100 days before royal cremation scheduled on April 22 will begin.

However as the funeral ceremony drew near, the temple and his relatives brought the body out on April 18 in preparation for the funeral.

But they found only empty coffin with cushions placed inside and covered with robes to make it look like he was still lying there.

The Sakon Nakhon police are actively carrying out an investigation to locate the body of the former dean monk and stated that they believed that the body was still intact and has not been destroyed.

The disappearance of his body has caused a great deal of dismay and concern for local residents.

The superintendent of the Sakon Nakhon police held a meeting yesterday with local authorities after visiting the scene of the crime.

He suspected two motives for the theft, either the disagreement among his disciples over his funeral ceremony which led to the body being removed, or that the body had been stolen in order to be turned into black magic artifacts because the former abbot's body is not physically decomposed.

Investigators believe that no less than four persons were involved in the theft and are working to identify them.

As for the remains of several burnt human bones that were found in a graveyard at the rear of the temple, they stated that they have been sent for a forensic examination to determine the identity.

The discovery of the theft was made on April 18 which was the 100 day anniversary of his death.

Disciples and local residents were about to remove his body to a temporary funeral pyre in preparation for cremation but only found his robes.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)