Prayut orders probe into Vorayuth case

Prayut orders probe into Vorayuth case

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the youngest son of Red Bull executive Chalerm Yoovidhya, arrives at the Police General Hospital for a blood test after his hit-and-run incident in Bangkok in September 2012 (File photo: Somchai Poomlard).
Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the youngest son of Red Bull executive Chalerm Yoovidhya, arrives at the Police General Hospital for a blood test after his hit-and-run incident in Bangkok in September 2012 (File photo: Somchai Poomlard).

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday formed a fact-finding committee into prosecutors' decision not to indict Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoodvidhya over his fatal hit-and-run accident in 2012.

Vicha Mahakhun, former commissioner of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, heads the panel,  which has 30 days to report its findings.

In his order, Gen Prayut said the decision not to arraign the man on a charge of reckless driving causing death had drawn widespread criticism and affected people's faith in organisations, officials and the justice system.

Society deserved to know the facts and legal aspects, and have information about people involved in the case, to ensure transparency. The committee could also propose reforms to the justice system, the prime minister said.

Mr Vicha is dean of the faculty of law at Rangsit University. Other committee members are the permanent secretary for justice, the secretary-general of the Council of State, the chairmen of the national committees on law and justice system reform, the president of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, and the deans of law faculties at Chulalongkorn, Thammasat and Ramkhamhaeng universities. The director of the Strategic Transformation Office is also a member and secretary of the committee.

The panel can seek information and opinions from relevant officials, but not intervene in the authority of officials responsible for the hit-and-run case. It can also listen to opinions, recommendations and complaints from people.

It will report its findings in 30 days, but the prime minister can extend the deadline.

In June, the Southern Bangkok criminal litigation department of the attorney-general's office decided to drop the charge that Mr Vorayuth, 35, also known as Boss, drove in a reckless manner that killed Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert, 47, on Sept 3, 2012. The Royal Police Office later agreed with the decision.

Mr Vorayuth's black Ferrari crashed into the rear of the police motorcycle on Sukhumvit Road in the early morning. He then fled the scene to his home nearby.

He delayed hearing charges seven times. It was not until April 27, 2017, that prosecutors finally charged him with reckless driving causing death and failing to help a crash victim.

He fled on a private plane two days before he was due to face the charges.

A speeding charge was later dropped when the one-year statute of limitation expired. A second charge, failing to stop and help a crash victim, expired on Sept 3, 2017.

The third and most serious charge, reckless driving causing death, would have remained on the books until 2027, but has now been dropped.

Mr Vorayuth is the son of Chalerm Yoovidhya, whose family co-owns the energy drink megabrand Red Bull and ranks second on Thailand's richest list with net worth estimated at US$20 billion (about 617 billion baht).


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