Pursuit of justice

Pursuit of justice

Jet-setter fugitives from justice Vorayuth Yoovidhya (left) and ex-monk Wirapol 'Nen Kham' Sukphol: One is free as a bird and the other is ordered extradited back to Thailand. (File photos)
Jet-setter fugitives from justice Vorayuth Yoovidhya (left) and ex-monk Wirapol 'Nen Kham' Sukphol: One is free as a bird and the other is ordered extradited back to Thailand. (File photos)

Prosecutors and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) deserve a light round of applause for their pursuit to the United States of the ex-monk previously known as Nen Kham. It must be stressed that as of today, extradition from California is not completely certain. Wirapol Sukphol -- his real name -- still has legal avenues to avoid Thai justice. But pursuing wanted fugitives across international borders is tough work and the Thai team has given hope that Mr Wirapol will be returned home to answer accusations of serious crimes.

"Light applause" because the Nen Kham case proves it can be done, yet is attempted far too rarely. On the same day that prosecutors of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) were self-congratulating their first victory in the renegade monk's possible return, word arrived of failure in a second case. The prosecutors have decided not to pursue the 2012 killing of a policeman by a hit-and-run driver. The man suspected of the crime is a member of one of Thailand's richest families and is apparently considered legally untouchable.

The suspect is Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya. His family has 10 members listed as dollar billionaires, and is best known for their control of Thailand's Krating Daeng empire. Legal proceedings to indict the grandson of the late founder of Red Bull have dragged on for years, hampered by excuses and delays by the suspect. Mr Vorayuth has refused to answer 12 police summonses for questioning, and the court has issued an arrest warrant. To the shame of the OAG, that office has not even requested extradition of the homicide suspect -- even though the world knows his primary residence has been in London for years.

Since his speeding Ferrari allegedly struck, dragged and killed Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert of Thong Lor police station, Mr Vorayuth has lived the carefree life of a jet-setter. The policeman's brother officers at Thong Lor district have been investigated for graft by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. In any case they have refused, along with the OAG, to pursue the case or Mr Vorayuth.

It is admirable that the DSI and OAG have tracked the suspected child rapist posing as a monk in California. It is shocking, arguably to the point of dereliction, that police and the OAG have failed to do the same in the case of a suspected cold-blooded killer.

And the Red Bull scion case is far from the only criminal one worthy of international pursuit. As the very top ranks of the junta itself showed last week, there is strong reason to study laws such as the statute of limitations. The convicted criminal Vatana Asavahame has fled abroad to avoid his punishment on corruption charges concerning the Klong Dan scandal. Like Mr Vorayuth, it is well known that Vatana returns to visit his family when it suits him, otherwise spending his time lounging in neighbouring countries, presumably on the proceeds of the corruption for which he was convicted.

Whatever the opinions about retroactive action like "Thaksin's Law" passed last week, it is clearly time to revise the statute of limitations details. The clock must stop ticking when a suspect or convict leaves the country. It is not about pursuing alleged criminals. It is all about the pursuit of justice.

The case of ex-monk Wirapol shows extradition requests actually work. There is no excuse for further delay in the case of the rich Mr Vorayuth, other well-connected suspects and fugitives. The European Union, Russia and America, among others, frequently and properly ask Thai authorities to detain and extradite wanted criminals. Thailand must now set to work to do the same, to bring justice to its many outstanding cases.

Editorial

Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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