Temple Rehab Centre Ordered To Shut

Temple Rehab Probe

The Department of Medical Services has ordered the closure of a drug rehab centre at a local temple following complaints of violent abuse and extortion of addicts admitted for treatment there.

Sila Naklor, the headman of Moo 10 village in Dan Makhamtia district in Kanchanaburi, said he received an urgent letter from Manus Potaporn, deputy director-general of the department, on Thursday night.

It ordered the immediate closure of the drug rehab centre at Wat Tha Phu Rat Bamrung. The letter, signed on Thursday, said the rehab facility failed to meet the criteria for a healthcare centre under the Narcotic Drugs Act.

In addition, its operating licence automatically expired on the death of the licensee. The temple abbot died on Monday, according to the letter. The temple would need to reapply for a licence to continue with drug rehabilitation.

The drug rehab centre at Wat Tha Phu Rat Bamrung made headlines when a popular shaman and a lawyer took reporters there on Monday to expose the poor conditions, which they said included a starvation diet, torture, beatings and extortion of relatives.

Jeeraphan Phetkhao, known as Mor Pla (Shaman Pla), and lawyer Paisarn Ruangrit, the two complainants, alleged that the rehab centre was run by a criminal network involving police and government officials.

Mr Phetkhao directed his suspicions at police from Kalasin and Roi Et provinces as several people involved in illicit drugs were sent to the temple for rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, Mr Ruangrit and representatives of victims yesterday handed over bank transfer slips to CSD police to back his allegations that some of the men were forced to pay police for drug rehabilitation.

A woman, who asked not to be named, said her son was admitted to the rehab centre and was required to pay 65,000 baht to a policeman for fees and other expenses.

She said she came forward to protect Mr Phetkhao who faced a charge of defamation from police in Roi Et.

It was alleged that several men were offered rehab at the temple in exchange for a clean criminal record and they had to pay 12,000 baht each once they agreed to the treatment and an additional 2,000 baht a month for food.

The treatment came under a 12-month contract. Another 10,000 baht was demanded for early release or breach of contract.

A total of 216 men were freed by soldiers and taken by trucks to a field hospital at the army’s Khao Chon Kai training camp in Muang district on Monday night following the rescue operation.