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Thai court sentences disgraced 'jet-set monk' to 114 years

AFP  |  Bangkok 

A today sentenced a disgraced former monk to 114 years in prison, a said, more than a year after he was extradited from the

made headlines in 2013 when footage emerged of him wearing aviator sunglasses with a bag on a private jet.

The 39-year-old fled to the US but was sent back after he was accused of raping a minor and deceiving donors who gave him money to build the world's largest emerald Buddha image.

A further probe revealed he owned luxury cars and multiple valued at about USD 700,000.

Wiraphon was convicted of money laundering, fraud and violating the Computer Crime Act for raising funds online, a court told AFP.

"Judges convicted him and sentenced him altogether to 114 years," the said, adding that under Wiraphon would not serve more than 20 years for the convictions.

Wiraphon was also required to return 28.6 million baht (USD 861,700) to 29 donors who filed complaints.

The ruling on the rape charge is expected in October, a said.

The monk is accused of having sex with an under-age girl around a decade ago and fathering a child with her. He faces the prospect of an additional 20 years behind bars if convicted.

is mostly Buddhist and the religion is woven into everyday life, with most men spending at least some time in a monastery as novice monks. But the junta that seized power in 2014 has taken a strong line against a Buddhist clergy mired in scandal.

Extortion, sex and drug cases tied to the clergy have shocked the public, and authorities last year floated the idea of introducing digitised ID cards to better track monks with criminal convictions.

In May the abbot of the tourist magnet "Golden Mount" temple in surrendered to police after USD 4 million was found in in his name.

Police are also investigating whether millions of dollars under control of the was misused.

In a high-profile case in February 2017, troops laid siege to the temple of a mega-rich Dhammakaya sect on the outskirts of for weeks in an effort to find and detain its controversial abbot, who remains at large despite accusations of massive fraud.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 09 2018. 12:45 IST