Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya stonewalls prosecutors yet again

Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya at the British Formula 1 Grand Prix in Silverstone, England in 2013. Photo: AP

Bangkok: Shortly before sunrise on September 3, 2012 a black Ferrari slammed into a motorcycle policeman, dragging his mangled body along a Bangkok street, before speeding away.

The drip of brake fluid led police investigating the hit-and-run death of their colleague to the gated residence of one of Thailand’s richest families.

But almost five years later 32 year-old Vorayuth Yoovidhya, an heir to the Red Bull fortune and the alleged Ferrari driver, has refused for the seventh time to meet prosecutors in a case that critics say is an example privilege for Thailand’s wealthy class.

Kong Rithdee a columnist at the Bangkok Post, criticised delays in the case at the weekend, saying people “stuck in the lower strata of the justice food chain” have been thrown into jail for murkier circumstances.

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Prosecutors last week denied they have dragged their feet on the case, saying further investigation is needed.

They postponed indicting Mr Vorayuth until April 27 after his lawyers sent a letter saying he was busy in the United Kingdom.

But the Associated Press, perusing more the 120 social media posting by his friends and family, found that since the accident Mr Vorayuth has flown around the world on Red Bull jets, cheered his family’s Formula One racing team, stayed at luxury resorts and dined at a fine restaurants.

The circumstances of the case have been widely published in Thailand where the military that seized power in a 2014 coup has vowed to wipe out corruption.

Initially Mr Vorayuth turned himself in, his father posted US$15,000 bail and he went home.

His lawyers subsequently said he had left the scene of the accident because he wanted to tell his father what happened.

A blood test showing he was over the legal alcohol limit was because he was “rattled” after the accident so drank to “relieve his tenseness,” lawyers said.

Amid a flurry of scepticism at the time about whether wealth and affluence would see Mr Vorayuth let off the hook, the then police commissioner promised integrity in the case.

“We will not let this police officer die without justice. Believe me,” he said.

A spokesman for Thailand’s Office of the Attorney-General told reporters last week that prosecutors have decided to indict Mr Vorayuth on charges of reckless driving causing death and failing to help a crash victim.

Charges of speeding and reckless driving had been dropped as their one-year statute of limitations had expired.

The spokesman said Mr Vorayuth can no longer claim the same reason for asking for further postponements or prosecutors will inform police to issue a warrant for his arrest.


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