RELIGION

Thai police put pressure on controversial Buddhist temple

Police remove a fence to facilitate traffic flow near Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. Thai police have put more pressure on the controversial Buddhist temple whose leader is wanted for alleged money laundering and related crimes involving millions dollars of embezzled funds. About 400 police moved to surround the Dhammakaya temple at dawn Tuesday to remove a fence said to be blocking public property. (AP Photo)

Police remove a fence to facilitate traffic flow near Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. Thai police have put more pressure on the controversial Buddhist temple whose leader is wanted for alleged money laundering and related crimes involving millions dollars of embezzled funds. About 400 police moved to surround the Dhammakaya temple at dawn Tuesday to remove a fence said to be blocking public property. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

Thai police have put more pressure on a controversial Buddhist temple whose leader is wanted for alleged money laundering and related crimes involving millions dollars of embezzled funds.

About 400 police moved to surround the Dhammakaya temple north of Bangkok at dawn Tuesday to remove a fence said to be blocking public property.

Police in June had moved to raid the temple and detain the chief monk and head of the Dhammakaya sect, Phra Dhammachayo, but withdrew after devotees blocked their way.

The government says the temple is involved in financial shenanigans but the temple's supporters believe it is being persecuted because it is considered close to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, overthrown by a military coup in 2006.