Prosecutors to indict Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya on cocaine, reckless driving charges
New charges based on new evidence come two months after all other charges were dropped
/NOVOSTIVL/ Prosecutors have decided to indict Red Bull scion Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya on charges of cocaine use and reckless driving causing death, stemming from his fatal hit-and-run case in Bangkok in 2012.
A working group at the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) announced the prosecutors' decision on Friday.
It comes two months after authorities unexpectedly dropped the case, sparking public outrage and a series of investigations that point to widespread flaws in a justice system that seems tilted in favour of the rich and connected.
Itthiphon Kaewthip, deputy director-general of the Department of Criminal Ligitation, said the working group, headed by deputy attorney-general Somsak Tiyavanich, had made its recommendations to the attorney-general, and they were accepted.
Although the charge of reckless driving causing death against Vorayuth was earlier dropped, a new investigation of the case found that the suspect had taken cocaine. No legal action had been taken against him previously on the drug charge.
Earlier a deputy attorney-general and an acting police chief decided not to arraign him on the charge of reckless driving causing death.
Mr Ittiporn said there was also fresh evidence and key witnesses who could prove the reckless driving charge to the court.
Sathon Wicharnwannarak, a physics lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, had calculated the speed of the accused's Ferrari at the time of the crash at 110-145 kilometres per hour, and public transport expert Samart Ratchapolsitte calculated the speed at 160-190kph.
The two witnesses were not in the previous investigation report and this was considered new evidence, Mr Itthiporn said.
The statute of limitations on the reckless driving causing death charge is 15 years and will expire on Sept 3, 2027. The cocaine use charge will expire on Sept 3, 2022.
OAG spokesman Prayut Petcharakhun said the prosecutors’ latest decision was not a revesal of the widely criticised decision made by Nate Naksuk, a deputy attorney-general, who decided not to prosecute Mr Vorayuth.
Mr Nate’s decision was lawful as he made the decision based on evidence in the investigation report at the time, the spokesman said.
The decision by the working group was based on fresh evidence, particularly the speed, he said.
"The OAG will ask police investigators to bring Mr Vorayuth in for arraignment. If evidence shows that Vorayuth is not in Thailand, or he is staying abroad, there must be clear details about this," Mr Prayut said.
"Police must inform the prosecutors so they can seek his extradition, as well as coordinate with Interpol to arrest him.
"The previous arrest warrant cannot be used. The investigators must resubmit a request to the prosecution," Mr Prayut said.
"The latest information, last year, showed a person who looked like Mr Vorayuth was spotted in Montreal, Canada. Thai authorities contacted Canadian police, but were told there was no travel record of Mr Vorayuth entering there."
Mr Vorayuth, 35, also known as Boss, drove the Ferrari that killed Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert, 47, in the early morning of Sept 3, 2012.
He crashed into the rear of the police motorcycle on Sukhumvit Road. He then fled the scene to his home nearby.
He delayed hearing the charges against him 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.
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 a net worth estimated at US$20 billion.