Benz driver turned monk acknowledges crash charges

Benz driver turned monk acknowledges crash charges

Janepob Veeraporn, left, arrives at the Ayutthaya provincial court with his uncle Charoen Kaewyodla. (Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)
Janepob Veeraporn, left, arrives at the Ayutthaya provincial court with his uncle Charoen Kaewyodla. (Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)

A business tycoon turned monk appeared in full robes at Ayutthaya Provincial Court on Monday to acknowledge charges he killed two postgraduate students in a high-speed collision in March.

Janepob Veeraporn, 37, arrived with his attorney and uncle to hear the eight charges public prosecutors pressed against him. They encompass reckless driving causing death, speeding, drink-driving, driving under the influence of drugs, driving while unfit to do so, driving without regard for safety, defying orders of traffic officers, and defying orders of officers under the Criminal Code.

After the two-hour court session, Mr Janepob's uncle, Charoen Kaewyodla, said the newly-minted monk would not speak to reporters after putting down 250,000 baht as bail.

Mr Charoen said they would consult with lawyers on which charges Mr Janepob would accept. The court ordered the defendant and relatives of the dead to appear again on July 5.

Mr Janepob entered the monkhood on May 8, originally for just 16 days. However, on May 22 he extended his ordination indefinitely as he claimed it calmed his mind and allowed him to make merit for the dead, the uncle said.

The businessman is practising Buddhism at a forest temple in Nakhon Ratchasima province, but would be ready to follow instructions from a senior monk on whether he should remain a monk during the trial, Mr Charoen said.

Mr Janepob repented and was ready to take full responsibility, submit to justice and adhere to the court's wishes, he said.

The accident happened on outbound Phahon Yothin Highway in Bang Pa-in district of Ayutthaya on March 13 when his Mercedes-Benz CSL coupe slammed into the back of a Ford Fiesta carrying Kritsana Thaworn, 32, and Thanthaphat Horsaengchai, 34. An investigation showed he was travelling at 215-257 kilometres while highway speed limits range only from 90-120km/h.

The victims died in the fiery wreck while the Mercedes overturned and remained in relatively good condition. Mr Janepob, a luxury car dealer and shareholder in many other businesses, sustained only a knee injury.

Public prosecutors also claimed he had a mental disorder and proposed to the court that he be sent to a medical institution.

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