Monk `slain over land dispute'

Bangkok Post, June 20, 2005

Bangkok, Thailand -- A Buddhist group and a network of people's organisations will meet Justice Minister Suwat Liptapanlop today to provide details of a land dispute in Chiang Mai's Fang district which led to the murder of a monk.

Phra Kittisak Kittisophano, chairman of the Sekhiyatham Buddhist group, yesterday held a press conference on the murder of Phra Supoj Suwajor after taking the slain monk's body to Bangkok for an autopsy.

The 47-year-old monk was stabbed to death in the compound of Suan Methatham religious centre on Saturday in tambon Sansai in Chiang Mai's Fang district.

Monks and local residents believe the motive for the killing was related to a land dispute involving the religious centre and influential figures.

Phra Kittisak said his group had already contacted forensic expert Porntip Rojanasunan to conduct an autopsy to find the cause of the monk's death. He believes the murder was linked to a dispute over land occupied by the religious centre. Phra Supoj and two other monks at the centre had allegedly been intimidated by men hired by influential figures in a bid to get them to vacate the plot.

Phra Kittisak said the three monks filed a complaint with local police against the influential figures, but the police refused to accept it.

Phra Kittisak said that representatives of his group and activists would meet the justice minister today to provide him with details of the land dispute.

The murder of the monk proved that the government's policy to crack down on influential figures had been a total flop, he said.