A suspected cult leader has been arrested after police discovered 11 dead bodies in his jungle home in Thailand.
Tawee Nanlan, 74, who claimed to be the ‘father of all religion’, allegedly forced his followers to drink his urine and eat his excrement and stopped them from leaving.
When police raided his home in the middle of the jungle of Chaiyaphum province, they discovered the corpses of devotees, including one of a baby.
They were alerted by Khun Jenjira, 53, who told them her 80-year-old mum was staying at the site and was barred from returning to her family.
‘I went to visit my mother and I saw how women were forced to follow a dress code by wearing a knee-length sarong and men had to wear formal trousers,’ Jenjira said.
‘Everybody had to remove their shoes before entering the site. But what was even more shocking was that I watched my mother rub the leader’s phlegm on her face and ate the man’s scurf.
‘There were 11 dead bodies of the devotees on the premises. My mother had also instructed me to leave her body in the same place.
‘The followers defy all Covid rules. They said that, once you have devoted your life to following the man’s teaching, you will be safe from Covid.’
Officials found five coffins outside the campsite, which were all drilled to allow the lymph fluid to flow out.
Nanlan’s followers said the corpses were brought there for rituals to send them to heaven and were injected with a strong chemical to stop them from rotting.
Pictures showed the white-haired pensioner, who goes by the name Joseph, being detained by officers yesterday.
He told them all of his ‘followers’ were there willingly and that he did not ‘force anybody to stay here or do anything they did not want to’.
Camp resident Mana, 45, said: ‘We have papers showing that the relatives have given consent with a death certificate.
‘Some of them have practiced meditation in this place. As for the burial, we follow the process of the medical team.
‘The body is put in a sealed bag and injected with formaldehyde to prevent the corpse from rotting.’
So far, Nanlan has only been charged with trespassing, police colonel Wattanachai Chanthathum confirmed, adding a ‘thorough investigation’ will take place.
Chaiyaphum province governor Kraisorn Kongchalad said the authorities were ‘shocked’ after reports of what took place in the cult.
‘Police in the area will be taking actions according to the law,’ he added.
‘The group hasn’t been following Covid-19 measures, as we found other devotees not wearing masks.
‘Officers will seize the 11 bodies to perform an autopsy and find the cause of death.
‘I never knew that in this area there was such a strange meditation sect. The cult leader will be prosecuted if found guilty of any crime.’