Purge poison of 'conspiracy'

Purge poison of 'conspiracy'

Fresh findings by the Vicha Mahakun panel, which was tasked with probing the alleged mishandling in the hit-and-run case involving Red Bull scion Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya, emphasise the urgent need to overhaul standard procedures for police investigators and public prosecutors.

The public was left stunned last week when the results were unveiled by Mr Vicha, a former national graftbuster.

The panel's report identified eight groups of individuals who conspired and committed malpractice that resulted in the dropping of all charges against Mr Vorayuth, who was accused of driving recklessly and causing the death of a police officer.

The report implicated police officials and public prosecutors, and also accused supervising officers, members of the junta-installed National Legislative Assembly and politicians of intervening in the investigation. In addition, it accused lawyers and witnesses of giving false testimony, as well as naming those who were behind the conspiracy.

In short, the report suggests that there was indeed a conspiracy involving numerous officials within the judiciary, with state officials, political office holders, lawyers and even witnesses consistently intervening in the judicial procedure from the outset of the case. They exploited legal loopholes, abused their authority, used their influence and gave false evidence in order to shield the suspect from prosecution.

Mr Vicha said a poisonous tree yields poisonous fruits, so he suggested the hit-and-run investigation should be revived so those who are found to be in the wrong can finally face legal and disciplinary action. After all, the hit-and-run occurred in 2012, but the case continues to drag on, with charges expiring as time goes by. Late last year, Deputy Attorney-General Nate Naksuk decided to close the case by dropping the last major charge -- reckless driving causing death -- against the Red Bull heir, reversing a previous order by his superior.

The report asserted that the conspiracy in the case represents a serious threat to the country's judicial system by undermining trust and confidence in the procedures of justice. It also called on those who were involved to take responsibility for the actions.

But how can the public be confident that the investigation will be carried out in a straightforward manner this time around, without the interventions that occurred before?

Note that the prosecution's fact-finding panel cleared Mr Nate -- who has now resigned -- of any wrongdoing. The Public Prosecutor Commission also decided against setting up a panel to investigate Mr Nate over his decision.

How can the public trust the results of other investigations against those implicated in the conspiracy, who include police officers, prosecutors, politicians, retired officials and civilian experts? As of now, it remains unclear who will be investigating these individuals.

In addition, the panel also proposed structural changes. It suggested the redefining of the role and authority of supervisors, as well as amending the law to better deal with defendants who flee at any point during prosecution. The panel has also asked for another month to come up with recommendations for legal reforms.

These are the challenges for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who has said he will act against those who caused injustices in the system. The premier is the only one who can restore public confidence in the justice system by overseeing all probes. He cannot pass on the responsibility to other agencies and/or subordinates.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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