Bullet only clue as police probe Thai monk's death

Bullet only clue as police probe Thai monk's death

A war-grade weapon was used in the Sunday murder of Phra Bundit Subandito, an abbot of Wat Pa Ban Tor Seesiad in Udon Thani province, police said yesterday.

Investigators yesterday unsuccessfully tried to interview persons who might be of interest to the case as family members collected the monk's ashes and disciples cleaned the temple after the Tuesday cremation ritual.

The head of Provincial Police Region 4's Investigation Division, Pol Maj-General Peerapong Wongsaman, explained to the late monk's mother, Ruwanee Sanguankaew, that police could still proceed with a murder investigation although nobody had given testimony so far and it would take time to solve the case.

He thanked the monk's father - who is also a monk - for allowing police to remove a bullet from the body.

It was initially considered to be a .223-calibre round, a type used for many kinds of guns including war weapons like the M16 rifle or the HK33 assault rifle.

Peerapong was told that the 48-year-old monk - who used to be a physician and director of two local government hospitals before entering the monkhood in 1997 - did not talk much and did not even own a mobile phone.

The late monk's father, however, declined to respond to police as he cited the dharma perspective that the event was already ended and all should be forgiven.

Peerapong then headed the police team back to inspect the scene one more time.

Earlier yesterday, Udon Thani provincial police chief Pol Maj-General Chaiyat Saithin told a teleconference of investigators that police would check further the bank accounts under other persons' names found in the slain monk's residence. The accounts were in relation to various projects that the monk oversaw, he added.

The .223 bullet would be tested to find whether it matched any gun used in other crimes, he said, adding that police could not yet confirm the type of gun used or whether a silencer was fitted. Witnesses said the gunshots were not loud.

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