One of the two witnesses whose testimony reportedly convinced prosecutors to drop all charges against Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya died following a motorcycle crash in Chiang Mai province in the early hours of Thursday.
Jaruchart Maadthong, 40, was involved in a motorcycle crash at 1am. He died shortly after at Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital.
His body was sent for an autopsy and would be brought to Chiang Rai for funeral rites, according to Thai media reports. His family and relatives said they knew nothing about his involvement in the high-profile case.
The Chiang Rai native was one of two new key witnesses added to the case two years ago. The other was a retired officer, Air Marshal Jakkrit Thanomkulabutr. Both testified that the Ferrari was travelling at 50-60 km/hour when the crash occurred.
The two witnesses also testified that they saw a policeman on a motorcycle abruptly cut in front of Mr Vorayuth’s Ferrari, causing him to hit the bike. As a result, the dead policeman was named another suspect in the case alongside Mr Vorayuth.
Both were due to meet the House panel on justice and laws on Aug 5. Sira Janejaka, chairman of the panel, urged the police chief to give protection to the air marshal as he was the only remaining key to a trial.
Deputy attorney-general Nate Naksook, on behalf of the attorney-general, signed the order not to charge Mr Vorayuth in late June but Thai media did not know about it until CNN broke the news last week.
After police wrapped up the case and sent it to prosecutors in 2018, Mr Vorayuth’s lawyer appealed to a justice committee of the National Legislative Assembly, the lawmaking body appointed by the junta after the 2014 military coup. The lawyer sought justice in the case and told the panel he had more witnesses and evidence.
Police later claimed they conducted an additional investigation as ordered by prosecutors.
They insisted they probed only the points ordered by the prosecutors. “We had no authority to expand the investigation or give more opinions at this stage,” a senior police officer told Thai media.
He insisted the two witnesses had not been in the case prepared by the Thong Lor police station.
Mr Vorayuth was accused of driving his black Ferrari when it hit the rear of a policeman’s motorcycle at high speed, dragging his body along Sukhumvit Road before speeding away in the early morning of Sept 3, 2012. The victim was Pol Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert, 47, who was based at the Thong Lor station.
A source familiar with the case said Mr Vorayuth’s lawyer had met a lawyer representing relatives of the dead policeman and they agreed on compensation payments in an out-of-court settlement. The relatives reportedly decided not to file civil and criminal suits against Mr Vorayuth.