Two Thai Buddhist monks have been arrested and charged with murder and arson for burning another monk to death, police on Thursday said.
The murder of monks by fellow clergymen is rare in Thailand, where Buddhism is practised by 95 per cent of the population.
Phra Boonsri, 61, was caught on Wednesday at his hiding place in the north-eastern province of Si Sa Ket, about 500 kilometres from the province of Bueng Kan, where he and another monk allegedly set fire on the room of Phra Somjit, 53.
Somjit was sleeping when Boonsri and another monk set his room on fire one and a half weeks ago, said Chaiyut Thamsuna, Police Chief of Buenh Kan’s So Phisai district.
The other monk, Phra Bancha, 37, and two other men, who were hired to drive the monks were arrested in Bueng Kan on Tuesday, he said.
All of the suspects have confessed to the crimes, with the monks saying they were not happy with how Phra Somjit, their temple’s abbot, had treated them and caused them to lose face in front of the temple’s followers over the past few years, the policeman added.
Any Thai male can enter monkhood for as long as they like, ranging from a few days to a lifetime, while no female is allowed to.
In recent years, many monks have been found to have misbehaved and violated the clergy’s rules, including committing crimes.
Most recently, another abbot was stabbed to death in Bangkok in January by his fellow monk after refusing to lend him some money.