Thailand’s infamous ‘jet-set monk’ convicted of raping a minor

Disgraced Thai monk Wiraphon Sukphon (3rd-L) arrives with other prisoners at a criminal court in Bangkok to face another sentence on October 17, 2018. (AFP / THAI NEWS PIX / Panumas Sanguanwong)
Updated 18 October 2018
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Thailand’s infamous ‘jet-set monk’ convicted of raping a minor

  • Wiraphon Sukphon 16-year sentence will be added to the 20-year prison term he received in August after being found guilty of multiple counts of fraud
  • The monk was extradited back to Thailand from the US last year, accused of the rape and duping donors to a supposedly religious project

BANGKOK: Thailand’s infamous “jet-set monk” was convicted of raping an underage girl Wednesday, a court official said, in a case that has rocked an already scandal-mired Buddhist clergy.
Wiraphon Sukphon, 39, earned his evocative moniker after footage emerged of him wearing designer sunglasses with a Louis Vuitton bag on a private jet.
He was extradited back to Thailand from the US last year, accused of the rape and duping donors who had given him money to build what he said would be the world’s largest emerald image of Buddha.
The girl was under the age of 15 and Wiraphon is said to have later fathered a child with her.
In Wednesday’s ruling, which found him guilty of rape and separating the girl from her parents, the court said he had given the Buddhist faith a “bad reputation.”
“He used his monkhood, which Thai people respect,” the court official told AFP.
Wiraphon’s 16-year custodial sentence punishment will be added to the 20-year prison term he received in August after being found guilty of multiple counts of fraud.
The military junta that seized power in 2014 has taken a hard-line against monks acting outside the law and authorities have considered introducing digitised ID cards that could track members of the community with criminal histories.
Thailand is mostly Buddhist and the religion is woven into everyday life, but drug, sex and financial scandals have weighed on the Buddhist leadership and forced some high-profile collisions with law enforcement.
In May the abbot of the tourist-heavy “Golden Mount” temple in Bangkok was arrested after $4 million was found in bank accounts in his name.
Police are also investigating allegations of financial wrongdoing within the National Office of Buddhism.
And early last year, soldiers raided the temple of the mega-rich Dhammakaya sect on the outskirts of Bangkok to detain its controversial abbot on accusations of massive fraud. He eluded capture and remains at large.


Polish parliament honors slain Gdansk mayor with prayer

Updated 16 January 2019
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Polish parliament honors slain Gdansk mayor with prayer

  • The attacker stabbed the mayor three times, in the heart and the abdomen
  • The stabbing happened while the mayor was onstage during a fundraising event

WARSAW: Polish lawmakers have paid respects to the popular mayor of Gdansk, who died after being stabbed by an ex-convict with a grudge.
Parliament members stood Wednesday for a minute of silence and prayed for Pawel Adamowicz, who died on Monday after being stabbed while onstage at a fundraising event the evening before.
Grzegorz Schetyna, the head of the opposition Civic Platform party, remembered Adamowicz as a courageous man who had devoted his life to his city, and blamed “insane hatred” for his killing.
The assailant stabbed Adamowicz three times in the heart and abdomen and told the crowd it was revenge against Civic Platform, which was in power when he was imprisoned for bank robberies. Adamowicz was a longtime member of the party but left it in 2015.