Nate probe a let-down

Nate probe a let-down

The Public Prosecutors Commission yesterday announced the outcome of a disciplinary probe against Nate Naksuk, former director-general of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

Mr Nate was probed for his decision not to indict Red Bull energy drink scion, Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya. Mr Vorayuth, who hit and killed a police officer while driving a Ferrari in 2012, fled the country and remains at large.

The committee yesterday announced it would dismiss Mr Nate with his pension intact.

The probe team originally ruled that Mr Nate deserved the harshest penalty of being dismissed without a pension. The investigation concluded Mr Nate was a highly experienced prosecutor, but made decisions and handled the case with gross negligence, severely damaging the authority.

The decision involves the car speed in the case. Police investigators initially said Mr Vorayuth had driven his Ferrari at 177 kilometres per hour, but later reduced the estimated speed below 80kph. Mr Nate in 2020 dropped a charge of reckless driving causing death against Mr Vorayuth based on the 80kph evidence.

His decision was perceived as benefitting Mr Vorayuth who had run away from the country several years ago with the result that his cases gradually expired. Currently, two charges remain active -- the first for narcotics after cocaine was found in his system following a drug test. That charge will expire on Sept 3.

The second charge -- reckless driving causing death -- will expire in 2027. This charge was filed recently by public prosecutors.

Despite the gross negligence which Mr Nate displayed, the probe team decided to reduce the penalty to dismiss him but with his pension rights intact for two reasons. First, there was no evidence that prove Mr Nate was corrupt. The second is that Mr Nate's civil service record was clean.

The probe's decision has confounded the media. It remains to be seen whether the probe outcome will boost the image of the OAG to a level that public prosecutors badly need.

Right after the press conference, Public Prosecutors Commission chairman, Patchara Yutithamdamrong, found himself having to answer awkward questions.

One was whether the probe team had helped Mr Nate, who is 67 years old and tendered his resignation last year. Mr Patchara insisted the probe team did not set out to help him. "We cannot prove that Mr Nate's decision was an act of corruption," he said.

The outcome might not please those who wish to see a harsher penalty. That said, the OAG has a lot of hard work to do to salvage the public prosecutors' image that has been tainted by few rotten apples.

At the moment, the Public Prosecutors Commission is investigating another former senior prosecutor Chainarong Saengthong-aram, who is accused of tampering with car speed evidence in the same case.

While the OAG's ruling might upset some people, the Royal Thai Police have let people down even more. They launched an investigation into the police involved in the case early last year, but to date no outcome has been revealed.

On Aug 3, the notorious case will have reached its 10th year. Society wishes to see justice served and officials bring Mr Vorayuth back to stand trial at home. Needless to say, society has been let down. What people have got instead is a high-ranking senior prosecutor accused of whitewashing the charges dismissed with a pension.

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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