Scandal deepens around Thailand's 'jet-set' monk
Warrant is issued, monk is defrocked and goes on the run
- Associated Press/Washington Post
- July 19, 2013
He’s known as Thailand’s jet-setting fugitive monk, and his story has riveted the country with daily headlines of lavish excess, promiscuity and alleged crimes ranging from statutory rape to manslaughter.
Until a month ago, 33-year old Wirapol Sukphol was relatively unknown in Thailand. Now he is at the center of the biggest religious scandal the predominantly Buddhist country has seen in years.
Despite the vows he took to lead a life of celibacy and simplicity, Wirapol had a taste for luxury, police say. His excesses first came to light in June with a YouTube video that went viral. It showed the orange-robed monk in aviator sunglasses taking a private jet ride with a Louis Vuitton carry-on.
The video sparked criticism of his un-monkly behavior and a stream of humorous headlines like, “Now boarding, Air Nirvana.”
Since then, a long list of darker secrets has emerged — including his accumulated assets of an estimated 1 billion baht ($32 million). This week, authorities issued an arrest warrant for the disgraced monk after having him defrocked in absentia.
Wirapol was in France when the scandal surfaced after leading a meditation retreat at a monastery near Provence. He is believed to have then fled to the United States but his current whereabouts are unknown.
Source: Washington Post