The Tiger Temple has denied all the charges filed against it and its abbot, Luangta Chan, by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation.
Luangta Chan’s representative, former Bangkok MP Siri Wangboonkerd and lawyer, Mr Saiyud Pengboonchu, told the media on Thursday that the abbot had nothing to do with the dead tiger cubs and amulets found at the temple during a raid last week by officials from the department, local police and military personnel.
All the 130 plus tigers which were kept at the temple and used by the temple to get donations from visiting tourists have been relocated to a breeding station in Ratchaburi province last week.
Luangta Chan re-emerged today after he disappeared following last week’s raid. He was briefly seen feeding some of the animals still left in the temple but did not meet with the media to tell his side of the story as promised.
Mr Siri told the media that the luangta could not meet with the press himself and assigned him to take his place at the news conference. Defending the abbot, he said the temple had never held any rituals to bless the amulets.
The lawyer, Mr Saiyud, claimed that the amulets were made by followers of the abbot without his knowledge or consent. He further said that the amulets and other items found in a car by the authorities were taken out of the temple by some followers because they didn’t want to make trouble for the temple and the abbot.
Illegal forest encroachment was one of the charges lodged against the temple by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation. The department also suspects that the temple may be involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.