Police find another stolen Buddha image in Chiang Mai

TNA, April 1, 2005

CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- The scandal of a former temple abbot accused of stealing ancient Buddha images to fund his betting habit deepened yesterday when the police announced the capture of a second 600 year-old image.

Stolen from Jetiyanusorn temple in Chiang Mai?s Doi Saket district three months ago, the image seized yesterday had been sold on to a Bangkok businessperson. The 7 inch high bronze image is thought to be over 600 years old.

Yesterday?s capture follows the seizure of another stolen image last week, and Pol. Lt. Gen. Kanuphong Singhara Na Ayutthaya, commander of the 5th Regional Police Division, indicated that the police were aware of the whereabouts of a third image from the temple.

The person accused of stealing the images is Mr. Charawuthi Kaewyon, 34, the former abbot of the temple, who is said to have sold the images to a market in Chiang Mai. The images, which were then sold on to a chain of several other purchasers, were then replaced by fake ones. Mr. Charawuthi, who was still abbot of the temple at the time of the thefts, is thought to have used the proceeds from the sale of the images to make football bets.