Bring 'Boss' to justice

Bring 'Boss' to justice

Time and again we see how people with wealth, influential families and political and business connections avoid facing justice for crimes they have committed. Prosecution of politicians for corruption, for example, is rare. One could say it is as scarce as hen's teeth.

Rakkiat Sukthana, a former health minister, tried to avoid a 15-year jail term when he was sentenced in 2003 for taking bribes from drug firms. Only by chance was he arrested one year after being sentenced when he was spotted exercising in a public park.

Former deputy interior minister Vatana Asavahame was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2008 for corruption in the long-running Klong Dan wastewater treatment plant scandal. Vatana fled prior to being sentenced and is now believed to be in China where police have been authorised to find and extradite him. The statute of limitations for his crime is 15 years.

Somchai Khunpluem, the "Godfather of Chon Buri", was convicted in absentia in March 2012 for being the mastermind in the murder of a political rival in 2003. He was sentenced to 25 years. He went into hiding but was arrested a year later while getting medical treatment at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok and is now supposedly under prison medical care.

There is no doubt that without their connections, justice would have been served sooner. For decades the wheels of justice have turned ever so slowly. Media reports alone were not sufficient to prompt law enforcers into action. But with the rise of social and digital media, public anger is more evident and vocal. Pressure on authorities is greater. That's why so much attention has been focused to the four cases involving Bangkok rich kids -- children of wealthy and influential individuals -- involved in deadly car accidents.

Most prominent of the cases is that of Red Bull heir Vorayudh "Boss" Yoovidhaya, accused of slamming his Ferrari into a policeman in September 2012. Over three years have passed and Mr Vorayudh has yet to face any legal action.

Renewed public pressure is the only reason that forced the Office of the Attorney-General and police to act. Thonglor police have said Mr Vorayudh would be arrested if he failed to answer the charges in connection with the hit-and-run by May 25. But no one expects Mr Vorayudh to appear. And if this happens, police would then ask the court to issue an arrest warrant.

An arrest warrant by the court needs to specify the charges and spell out the statute of limitations. Mr Vorayudh was initially charged with reckless driving causing death, failing to help a crash victim, and speeding. The speeding charge expired after one year as police did nothing. The statute of limitations for reckless driving causing death is 15 years and failing to assist a crash victim is five years.

The only way to curb this loophole is to end limitations on murder or manslaughter, which currently stand at a maximum of 20 years. There should be no statute of limitations on serious or violent crimes.

As things stand at the moment in the Vorayudh case, even if an arrest warrant is issued, nothing will happen. Police say they do not know where Mr Vorayudh is although he was last believed to be in Singapore. The fact remains that Mr Vorayudh, who is now 31, could return to Thailand once the 15-year statute of limitations has expired and not face any legal proceedings.

For those without money, power or connections, there is no option to go overseas or live a charmed life guarded and protected by influence and wealth. Mr Vorayudh's most serious charge is reckless driving resulting in death and he must be brought to justice. It is time to draw a line in the sand and make an example out of this case.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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