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Former Police Chief Indicted for Helping Red Bull Avoiding Criminal Charges

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Thailand, Police, Red Bull

Thailand’s former Chief of Police Gen Somyot Poompunmuang and seven others have been indicted by the Attorney General for assisting Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya in avoiding criminal charges following a tragic hit-and-run in 2012.

According to a statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on Tuesday, Pol Gen Somyot, 69, was indicted for incorrect exercise or dereliction of duty, as well as for encouraging officers to perform illegal acts in order to help Vorayuth evade or get less penalty.

Nate Naksuk, a former deputy attorney general, will stand trial on similar accusations, along with two other police officers, according to the agency.

The move came after the National Anti-Corruption Commission accused them in September of involvement in prosecutors’ 2020 decision to dismiss various charges against Vorayuth, including speeding and hit-and-run.

The 2020 decision caused a public outcry, causing then-Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to request a new probe into how it occurred.

thailand, Red Bull, Vorayuth

Vorayuth smashed his Ferrari into Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert‘s motorbike in Bangkok’s Thong Lor neighbourhood early on September 3, 2012.

Instead of stopping to assist the victim, Vorayuth, then in his early twenties, drove away, dragging the victim’s body about 200 metres from the scene of the collision. He didn’t report it.

After consistently refusing to appear in court, he fled the country in 2017. Some charges have already reached their statute of limitations.

The NACC investigation last year ruled that Pol Gen Permpoon Chidchob, currently the education minister but previously an assistant national police chief, was also guilty, but on a lesser disciplinary charge in connection with the “Boss” case.

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Pol Gen Somyot acknowledged in 2018 to borrowing 300 million baht from the fugitive owner of the Victoria’s Secret Massage parlour while serving as national police head in 2014 and 2015.

The admission occurred when the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) revealed that the money trail of the business’s owner, Kampol Wirathepsuporn, went to the former police chief.

Vorayuth is the grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, who founded TC Pharmaceutical and created the energy drink Krating Daeng. Chaleo co-founded the multinational Red Bull brand with Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian marketer who died in 2022.

The Red Bull owners are Thailand’s second-richest family, with a net worth of $27.4 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The Red Bull heir, who has been at large since fleeing Thailand in 2017, is still facing a single charge of reckless driving resulting in death, which will expire in 2027. The issue surrounding his cases has sparked concerns about impunity for Thailand’s wealthy and influential elite.

Panya Khongsaenkham was allegedly tortured by police in Sa Kaeo province

Meanwhile, the attorney general has appointed a panel of prosecutors to oversee a Department of Special probe (DSI) probe into the case of a man coerced to falsely confess to his wife’s murder.

Police in Sa Kaeo province allegedly tortured Mr Panya Khongsaenkham in order to make him a scapegoat for the January murder of his mentally ill wife, Buaphan Tansu.

Watcharin Phanurat, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), stated on Tuesday that the DSI was now officially investigating the matter under the Act on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances.

A team of nine public prosecutors will oversee the probe, according to Mr Watcharin, who is also the deputy chief of the OAG’s investigation division. He will lead the panel.

“This is not a collaborative investigation between the OAG and the DSI. “The prosecutors are only responsible for overseeing the investigation until it is completed,” he stated.

The matter has gotten a lot of attention because some prominent officials have been accused.

The probe stems from allegations against the Aranyaprathet police department that some of its personnel tortured Mr Panya into falsely confessing to killing his 47-year-old wife.

However, security camera footage from January 11 showed Buaphan being beaten, abducted, and slain by a group of adolescents who later disposed of her body in a nearby pond.

Two of the five suspects are the sons of local police officers.

Voice recordings from around the same time show concerned talks between cops investigating the case when they realise they have “the wrong guy” in custody.

On January 24, Pol Maj Yutthana Praedam, acting director-general of the DSI, approved an order to investigate whether the officers had unlawfully filed criminal charges against Mr Panya.

If their culpability is established, their actions will be considered a violation of the anti-torture act, which went into effect last year.

The Central Juvenile and Family Court has filed lawsuits against the parents of the five juvenile perpetrators suspected of killing Buaphan, ages 13 to 16.

Under the Child Protection Act, parents are accused of pushing, threatening, encouraging, supporting, or permitting their children to behave inappropriately.

The judge granted the five adolescent suspects temporary release. However, probation authorities will closely watch the kids until the court hearing on March 13 at 10 a.m.

The case has prompted the national police commander, Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, to suggest that the criminal legislation governing juvenile crime be amended so that young people who commit severe crimes face harsher punishments.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Wants Red Bull Heir Apprehended

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The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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