Buddhist monks and novices brawl over woman

Mainichi Daily News, Aug 31, 2005

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Police in northeastern Thailand issued arrest warrants Wednesday against machete-wielding monks and novices who brawled over a woman and urged their abbot to preserve the reputation of Buddhism by disrobing them.

More than a dozen monks and novices were involved in the street fight late Monday, with one of the trainees suffering a severe cut and the others sustaining bruises, said police Capt. Cheewin Kasilkam.

"I will urge the abbot to disrobe them before I file formal charges against the suspects today," Cheewin said.

The brawl began after 17-year-old Wichai Khaophimai happened to meet Chamlong Ornsiri, 19, at a market in Nakhon Ratchasima province. Before being ordained as novices they had both been in love with the same young woman.

Chamlong, on seeing his rival, charged and struck him in the face, police said.

Wichai went back to Wat Sanun, the monastery where he was living, rounding up three monks and nine novices who armed themselves with machetes and set off for Chamlong's monastery. They attacked Chamlong and another novice who was badly cut and later lodged a complaint with police.

Cheewin said those involved in the fighting would face charges that could lead to maximum sentences of one year in prison. Anyone convicted in the machete attacks would face charges of bodily assault and carrying weapons in public -- and up to two years in prison if convicted.

Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country and its more than 450,000 yellow-robed monks and novices are bound by oath to live modest and celibate lives. However, in recent times a number of monks have been charged with sex abuse, murder, drug trafficking and other crimes. (AP)