Thailand’s Public prosecutors say they cannot proceed with the indictment of Red Bull heir Vorayuth on drug charges. Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya allegedly had cocaine in his system during the 2012 hit-and-run case.
Public prosecutors say they are duty-bound to wait until police actually arrest him and bring him to trial.
Prayuth Petchkhun, deputy spokesman of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), updated the media on Wednesday on the OAG’s progress in handling the high-profile case.
The pursuit of justice in the case, which claimed the life of police officer Wichian Klanprasert, resumed in September after the OAG decided to indict Mr Vorayuth on two charges; Reckless driving causing death; and cocaine use, citing fresh evidence and new witnesses.
Public Outrage over Vorayuth
Previously, the OAG, deputy attorney-general Nate Naksuk and Ittiporn Kaewthip, deputy director-general of the Department of Criminal Litigation — had decided to drop the reckless driving charge against Mr Vorayuth, a move which sparked public outrage.
A panel headed by former member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Vicha Mahakun, later urged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to revive the case, as it found evidence of intervention by officials, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, lawyers and witnesses. It is the responsibility of police to track down Mr Vorayuth before public prosecutors can forward his case for trial, said Mr Prayuth.
Meanwhile, Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), said the NACC is still examining the Vicha-led panel’s report. A source, however, said the NACC has started working with the Anti-Money Laundering Office to determine if there had been payments made to people linked to the mishandling of the Red Bull scion case.
Thailand’s rich kids’ get away with murder
One of Thailand’s most famous untouchables is an heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune. In 2012, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, a grandson of Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, slammed his Ferrari into a policeman and dragged the officer’s dead body along a Bangkok street before driving away. Police initially attempted to cover up his involvement by arresting a bogus suspect.
In 2010, Orachorn Devahastin Na Ayudhya was 16 and driving without a license when she crashed her sedan into a van on a Bangkok highway, killing nine people. Orachon, the daughter of a former military officer, was given a two-year suspended sentence.
In a country that values deference and patronage, and where police are infamously corrupt, there have been many other similar cases. But Janepob’s carried the added shock value of visuals. The video of the crash was taken by a nearby car’s dashboard camera, and quickly went viral. A few days later, another video was uploaded and widely shared showing Janepob’s Mercedes smashing through an Easy Pass toll gate about an hour before the crash.
Bangkok resident Nant Thananan, 35, was among many who expressed their exasperation on Facebook.
“It’s so frustrating because there’s nothing we can do. We know this case will go away. We’ve seen it before,” said Nant, who owns a popular Bangkok food truck. “We keep asking ourselves, when are the police going to be ashamed enough to do the right thing?”