RED BULL HEIR ATTEMPTS TO EVADE PROSECUTORS – On September 12 2012 Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, 28, the heir to Red Bull, was responsible for killing a motorbike policeman.
Driving at excessive speed in his Ferrari, whilst allegedly under the influence of alcohol and drugs, Yoovidhya allegedly rammed the back end of Police Senior Sergeant-Maj Wichian Klanprasert motorbike and dragged his body some 500 yards down the street.
Despite extensive damage to the front end of his Ferrari Yoovidhya failed to stop and fled the scene.
A number of eyewitnesses gave detailed information to the police plus they were able to follow the trail of engine fluid from the scene to the home of Yoovidhya where he initially denied an involvement.
What was about to unfold was nothing short of subterfuge; something all too familiar in Thailand for those who are considered rich and powerful.
Initially Yoovidhya’s and the investigating police officers colluded to subvert justice by blaming the incident on Yoovidhya’s driver. Initially this appeared to work until the Police Commissioner, in charge of the area, Comronwit Toopgrajank intervened and uncovered the truth.
Shortly after the subterfuge failed Yoovidhya came clean admitting to killing the police office and was duly arrested.
Within a few days of being arrested Yoovidhya visited the family of the police officer to offer his condolences. However the press was rife with accusations that Yoovidhya cared little for the family and after producing a payment of 3 million Baht (approximately US$97,000) it was seen as nothing more than a bribe and pay-off to relinquish him of any further responsibility.
Contrary to the evidence against Yoovidhya and his own admission it has taken nearly a year for the Thai judicial process to begin a trial and it now appears even this may be further delayed as Yoovidhya has failed yet again to turn up for the court hearing.
Soon after the initial subpoena was handed to Yoovidhya he left Thailand for a reported ‘business trip’ to Singapore. According to Yoovidhya lawyers their client has been unable to return to Thailand due to ill health. It was reported that Yoovidhya lawyers did produce a medical certificate back up their claims
Yoovidhya lawyer, Tanit Buakhiao, presented himself at Bangkok South Criminal Court alongside Court prosecutor Reucha Kraireuk yesterday afternoon. Tanit Baukhiao gave the court his assurance that Yoovidhya would return to Thailand as soon as he has recuperated from his illness.
Reucha Kraireuk told reporters that the prosecutor’s office planned to object to any request for bail and that an arrest warrant has been issued for Yoovidhya immediate arrest.
Due to the amount of time this case has taken to come to court the prosecutor’s office has already been required to drop the charge of speeding as the statute of limitation expired yesterday.
Reucha Kraireuk went on to tell the press that the prosecutor’s office will lay charges against Yoovidhya for A) causing death and damage to property through reckless driving and; B) failing to stop and assist the victim.
The media are now waiting to see how this trial will unfold for this will be yet another test in whether a rich and powerful figure will be able to escape the law through connections and bribery.
There have been numerous cases over the years where influential figures have managed to avoid imprisonment; this is often due to pressure being put on judges to ignore evidence or people having been bribed or threatened not to give evidence.
Many Thai nationals feel there are two sets of rules; one for the wealthy and one for the poor and with Yoovidhya failing to turn up for the sixth time with almost impunity many feel that the wheels of corruption are well and truly greased.
“If you are common people like us, I think the case is already finished. Mr. Vorayuth is powerful, has many connections and a lot of money.
He is going to try very hard not to be charged — or at the very least to get a suspended sentence or no punishment at all.” Pornanand Glanprasert, older broker of the police officer killed.
Few have any belief that Yoovidhya will ever face justice and this will be yet another example of how it is possible to elude justice in Thailand providing you have sufficient funds and the right connections.
Police Commissioner, Comronwit Toopgrajank, told reporters that from the very beginning a police officer colluded with Yoovidhya in order to pin the blame on a member of his household staff, the driver, which was completely unjust. Comronwit Toopgrajank went on to say that he would resign his commission and job if justice was not served in this case but is confident that Yoovidhya will face the law and be punished for his actions.
The Thai media and Thai people will now have to wait until Yoovidhya deems himself fit enough to travel back to Thailand to face the charges laid against him.