NACC must fix Boss saga

NACC must fix Boss saga

It has been nine years since the scandalous hit-and-run case involving Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya first made headlines. Mr Vorayuth, a scion of the family behind the Red Bull empire, was charged over the fatal 2012 hit-and-run case and fled the country in 2017.

Even though his whereabouts are no secret, as he has been photographed in front of his swanky London flat, Thai police have nevertheless failed to bring him back home to face justice.

While Mr Vorayuth has remained at large and charges related to the hit-and-run gradually expire, collective doubt in the Thai justice system has only grown. Again the old phrase, "jails are for the incarceration of the poor", highlighting the discrepancies that place the poor at a disadvantage in Thailand's justice system rings true.

Therefore, it came as a breath of fresh air when the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) earlier this week announced it is "considering" investigating at least 10 people -- among them policemen and prosecutors -- for the role they may have played in getting some of the criminal charges against Mr Vorayuth dropped.

The NACC's move is based on a 6,000-page investigation by an independent panel led by former NACC member Vicha Mahakun. The panel had been appointed by the prime minister to revive the case following an outcry when public prosecutors, with approval from police, dropped three major criminal charges against Mr Vorayuth in 2019.

The NACC should and must launch an investigation to probe whether these officials pulled any strings. Failing to do so would put the credibility of the agency at risk. This high-profile case is far beyond a fatal car crash case.

If the findings of the Vicha panel are found to be true, it would mean the possible derailing of justice on a grand scale.

Indeed, the preliminary findings of Mr Vicha's panel clearly reported systematic interventions that derailed justice through the help of public prosecutors, government officials and policemen. The Royal Thai Police (RTP) and the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) subsequently last year launched a disciplinary probe against officials involved in this case.

The RTP ended the investigation after six months, asking the government to launch a new independent probe instead, while the OAG cited bureaucratic hurdles for the snails-pace probe of public prosecutors involved. Bits and pieces of Mr Vorayuth's case are simply demoralising.

The case started early on Sept 3 in 2012 when at 5am, Mr Vorayuth drove his Ferrari into a motorcycle ridden by Pol Snr Sg Maj Wichian Klanprasert of Thong Lor police.

Mr Vorayuth drove off immediately, dragging the policeman's body behind his vehicle for some distance. Traces of leaked motor fluid led police to the family's compound and the damaged Ferrari.

Mr Vorayuth postponed his court appearances six times, before fleeing abroad in 2017. The statutes of limitations on some of his charges have expired.

Now only two charges remain active -- the first for drug use after cocaine was found in his system, which expires in September next year, and reckless driving causing death, which expires in 2027.

In six years, he will be able to return home. It remains unknown whether or when police can bring Mr Vorayuth to stand trial. Yet, there is a window of opportunity to hold his accomplices accountable.

The NACC must now seize this chance and make people believe in the justice system again.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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