Not fast or furious

Not fast or furious

The new narcotics law that benefits Red Bull scion Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya, who went into hiding after his fatal hit-and-run case in Bangkok a decade ago, is still more evidence of problems in the justice system.

Vorayuth, who escaped after his Ferrari ran over and killed a Thong Lor police officer in 2012, was charged with cocaine abuse, an offence with a penalty of 10 years in prison, among other charges.

According to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), the new narcotics law, which effectively halved the penalty to five years, means the charge against the 37-year-old fugitive has now exceeded the statute of limitations.

The legal amendment is good news for the runaway tycoon who was last seen a few years ago in front of a swanky flat in London. But overall it spells more bad news for the justice system.

For the record, one charge after another against the scion of the famous energy drink empire has expired over the course of the past 10 years. A speeding charge against him was dropped after its one-year statute of limitations expired in 2013, followed by another charge of failing to help a crash victim in 2017.

Only one charge, reckless driving causing death, still remains and will expire in five years or 2027. Unless those in the justice system change their work ethos, justice is unlikely to be served. Vorayuth will walk away scot-free in the next five years. And time really does fly.

In that case, the probe by a panel under Prof Vicha Mahakun, which has already implicated quite a few officers in this high-profile gaffe, looks like a waste of time.

Prof Vicha, a former national anti-corruption commissioner, was asked by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to head the probe back in July 2020, at the height of public anger over the OAG's decision not to indict Vorayuth. The police made no objections.

The decision not to indict him, made by Nate Naksuk in 2020, was based on "new evidence" including a move to amend the record of his driving speed at the time of the incident from 177 kilometres per hour to 80kph -- which was later proven to be untrue.

The panel pinpointed a group of people, including senior police, investigators and public prosecutors, behind this shameful scam. Having found the money trail, the Vicha panel made clear that over a dozen police had a hand in faking evidence to favour the culprit.

The report was submitted to Gen Prayut in Aug 2020. Since then, a series of scandalous attempts have emerged to botch the Vicha report.

However, escalating public pressure forced the OAG to take action against Mr Nate.

After a probe, the agency last May decided to dismiss him but maintained his pension rights. This was a mild punishment given the damages he caused to the agency and the justice system. Other agencies seem reluctant to pursue the case.

Among them, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which set up an inquiry into those accused of wrongdoing in the Vicha report, seems too sluggish and of little use.

The Royal Thai Police (RTP), meanwhile, has not made any move against the implicated officers, some of whom have since retired. Instead, the police keep dragging their feet.

It's a shame that Gen Prayut, who oversees the RTP, tolerates such idleness and pretends not to see the blatant mistakes taking place right under his nose.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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