Thailand Resurrects 8-Year-Old Case Against Red Bull Heir

Thai PM orders investigation into fatal 2012 hit-and-run involving Vorayuth 'Boss' Yoovidhya
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 29, 2020 7:27 AM CDT
Thailand Resurrects 8-Year-Old Case Against Red Bull Heir
A Thai police commander answers questions in Bangkok Wednesday during an inquiry session on the decision to drop charges against Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya.   (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thailand's prime minister responded Wednesday to growing public furor by ordering a probe into the dropping of criminal charges against a Thai heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune, accused of killing a policeman in a hit-and-run accident eight years ago. The case involving Vorayuth Yoovidhya, whose family owns about half of the Red Bull empire, has highlighted longstanding allegations that the rich and powerful in Thailand enjoy impunity from the law, per the AP. Vorayuth, better known by the nickname "Boss," was wanted in connection with the Sept. 3, 2012, accident that occurred when his Ferrari struck and killed motorcycle policeman Sgt. Maj. Wichean Klunprasert. The decision by the attorney general's office to not prosecute Vorayuth on a charge of causing death by reckless driving was made last month and announced Friday at a police news conference.

After the 2012 accident, Vorayuth's lawyers managed to repeatedly put off court appearances until April 2017, when a warrant was finally issued for his arrest a few days after he'd left the country. His Thai passports were later revoked. In exile, Vorayuth enjoyed a jet-set lifestyle, flying in private Red Bull jets to attend Formula One races, snowboarding in Japan, and cruising in Venice, creating outrage in Thailand. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's office said Wednesday he ordered an investigation because uproar over the case affected the credibility of the judicial system. "There must be justice in Thai society applied equally, without class discrimination," he said. A 10-member investigating committee is to include government and parliamentary specialists on law, along with law deans at Bangkok's three top universities. Both houses of Parliament announced hearings on the decision to drop charges, as did the police department and the attorney general's office.

(More Thailand stories.)

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