NACC probe welcome

NACC probe welcome

It's welcome news that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has finally launched a probe into the mishandling of the infamous hit and run case involving Vorayuth Yoovidhya, scion of the Red Bull empire, which allowed the megarich culprit off the hook.

Some 15 senior police, prosecutors and investigators were involved. The anti-graft body would do a great service to the justice system and country at large with a swift investigation. It should also make sure to avoid all the mistakes by other agencies that performed at snail's pace over the past nine years.

Initially, all nine members of the NACC were to sit in the newly-formed panel to carry out the probe.

However, one member, Suchart Trakulkasemsuk, withdrew from the panel. Mr Suchart, a former member of National Legislative Assembly (NLA) said he had been a member of NLA's subcommittee on justice and had received a petition from Vorayuth's family, so should not take part.

The probe follows recommendations by former graftbuster Vicha Mahakun, head of a panel on the 2012 crash, established last year by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

He set it up in the wake of a public outcry over attempts to drop the case by senior public prosecutors.

Mr Vicha wrapped up the findings in August, blaming corruption for the derailment of justice process.

One example: a number of panels were set up by various state agencies, without making conclusion or progress. Several police were transferred, only to be reinstated later after public attention faded.

Vorayuth, then 27, was arrested and bailed for the 2012 crash that killed Pol Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert on the spot. He jumped bail and fled the country, while charge after charge against him expired as investigators moved at a glacial pace.

Among the 15 people implicated by the Vicha report are two police generals and six senior police officers, two public prosecutors and two politicians.

Some were accused of having a role in twisting evidence, including changing the recorded car speed at the time of the fatal crash, and the sudden appearance of new witnesses, resulting in criminal charges against Mr Vorayuth being substantially diluted.

State officers had allowed 14 appeal attempts by the culprit's family, which is unprecedented. But it was the decision by Nate Naksuk, then deputy attorney-general, to drop a charge of reckless driving causing death on the basis of the "new" evidence which blamed the dead policeman for the crash, that ignited the round of public outrage which prompted Gen Prayut to establish the Vicha panel.

At the peak of public anger, prosecutors last September decided to indict Vorayuth on two counts -- cocaine use and reckless driving causing death. Meanwhile, the Department of Special Investigation also stepped in.

However, the question remains of whether the NACC will take the bold step of wrapping up the case in "a timely fashion" as emphasised by NACC chairman Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit.

His deputy Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, citing Section 48 of the National Anti-Corruption Act, insisted the agency has two years, with the possibility of a one-year extension, to conclude it.

But the suggested three-year period seems far too long, taking into account the fact the case had dragged on for nearly a decade.

As the saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied. Public trust in the justice system will also take a hit the longer it goes on.

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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