RELIGION

Police poised to arrest popular monk in dramatic showdown

  • Buddhist devotees sit outside the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Police entered the sprawling Buddhist temple complex after wading through thousands of devotees camped on the grounds to arrest a popular abbot accused of embezzling $14 million. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

    Buddhist devotees sit outside the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Police entered the sprawling Buddhist temple complex after wading through thousands of devotees camped on the grounds to arrest a popular abbot accused of embezzling $14 million. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)  (The Associated Press)

  • Buddhist devotees sit outside the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Police entered the sprawling Buddhist temple complex after wading through thousands of devotees camped on the grounds to arrest a popular abbot accused of embezzling $14 million. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

    Buddhist devotees sit outside the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Police entered the sprawling Buddhist temple complex after wading through thousands of devotees camped on the grounds to arrest a popular abbot accused of embezzling $14 million. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)  (The Associated Press)

  • Department of Special Investigation officers and monks negotiate with temple authorities as they serve an arrest warrant at Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Police entered the sprawling Buddhist temple complex after wading through thousands of devotees camped on the grounds to arrest a popular abbot accused of embezzling $14 million. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

    Department of Special Investigation officers and monks negotiate with temple authorities as they serve an arrest warrant at Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Police entered the sprawling Buddhist temple complex after wading through thousands of devotees camped on the grounds to arrest a popular abbot accused of embezzling $14 million. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)  (The Associated Press)

Thai police have entered a sprawling Buddhist temple complex after wading through thousands of devotees camped on the grounds to arrest a popular abbot accused of embezzling $14 million.

The operation at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, a monastery north of Bangkok, began before dawn Thursday and was broadcast live on TV, signaling a possible dramatic climax to a months-old standoff.

The abbot, Phra Dhammachyao, is accused of embezzling temple funds and of money laundering. He has brazenly rejected police demands to report for questioning and barricaded himself inside his temple, ignoring three summonses.

Police Maj. Suriya Singhakamol told reporters that police agents went in Thursday after negotiations with temple authorities, and will now serve the arrest warrant.