Red Bull runaway fled Bangkok two days before court hearing

An arrest warrant has been issued for Vorayuth Yoovidhya for his involvement in a hit-and-run incident in 2012. PHOTO: EPA
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Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the suspect in a brutal hit-and-run case in which a police officer was killed, gave authorities the slip once again by leaving Thailand for an unknown destination on April 25, just two days before he was due to answer charges over the 2012 incident.

Legal proceedings to indict the grandson of the late founder of Red Bull have dragged on for five years, hampered by excuses and delays by Mr Vorayuth, also known as “Boss”.

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He dodged another summons last week, inflaming a public already angered by the lack of progress made on the case and reeling at recent news reports that he had been living a lavish jet-set lifestyle despite the legal proceedings looming over him.

Pol Maj Gen Apichart Suriboonya, chief of the Royal Thai Police’s Foreign Affairs Division, said immigration records showed Mr Vorayuth exited the kingdom last Tuesday. His whereabouts remain unknown, he added.

The suspect’s lawyer, Thanit Buakhiew, lodged a request on Wednesday to seek an eighth deferral for his client to answer the charges. But the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) rejected the request and asked police to seek a court warrant for Mr Vorayuth’s arrest.

The warrant for Mr Vorayuth’s arrest was issued on Friday.

Pol Maj Gen Apichart said the Foreign Affairs Division sent a letter to the UK National Central Bureau for Interpol that same day asking it to confirm whether Mr Vorayuth was in the United Kingdom.

He said the two agencies would meet this week to follow up on the issue as the OAG is keen to initiate an extradition request.

If Mr Vorayuth is not in the UK, Interpol will issue an international alert, known as a Blue Notice, to its 190 member countries to locate, identify or obtain information on the suspect, he said.

Police in Sukhumvit’s Thong Lor area — where the officer was hit and dragged to his death in the early hours of the morning before the suspect allegedly fled the scene — have forwarded a letter to the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs to initiate a process to revoke Mr Vorayuth’s passport, said Pol Maj Gen Apichart.

He said this is the first case involving the extradition of a hit-and-run suspect he has seen during 15 years on the force, but that he was confident the man would eventually be brought to justice.

Many outspoken critics have less faith in the outcome of a case they claim highlights the privilege enjoyed by Thailand’s wealthy elite, or so-called “hi-so” families. Mr Vorayuth’s father is Thailand’s fourth-richest billionaire, according to reports.

Deputy police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said Monday that Thong Lor police have taken steps to bring Mr Vorayuth to court, including forwarding the arrest warrant to the Immigration Bureau and the RTP’s Foreign Affairs Division. He said the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs has also been notified.

He said the probe is not being stalled but has been extended to make sure all involved are questioned thoroughly.

The inquiry centres on the police’s handling of the case, which faced heavy criticism after two charges — speeding and reckless driving causing damage to others’ property — were dropped after their one-year statute of limitations expired.

-The Bangkok Post

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