Police poised to arrest popular monk in dramatic showdown

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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.