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Witness body to be seized

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Witness body to be seized

Bid to end ‘public doubt’ in Boss case

Police take the motorcycle of Jaruchart Maadthong to Phuping Rajanivej police station after an accident on Thursday. Jaruchart, a key witness in the case involving Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya, was killed in the crash. (Photo by Panumet Tanraksa)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed authorities to seize the body of a new witness in the “Boss” hit-and-run case for a new autopsy to end public doubt about the circumstances of his death.

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said on Sunday Gen Prayut’s decision to confiscate the body of Jaruchart Maadthong was to allow forensic officials to conduct an autopsy as the public questioned the timing of his death.

Jaruchart was killed in a two-motorcycle crash on Huay Kaew Road in Chiang Mai municipality on Thursday. The driver of the other motorcycle, Somchai Tawino, was injured.

Jaruchart and retired AM Jakkrit Thanomkulabutr were new witnesses brought into the case two years ago.

They testified that Vorayuth Yoovidhya was not driving at high speed and saw the motorcycle of Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert cut in front of his Ferrari on Sept 3, 2012.

Their testimony led to the closure of the high-profile case against the Red Bull scion after prosecutors in June dropped the last charge of fatal reckless driving.

Mr Somchai told Phuping Rajavinej police after the accident that he did not know Jaruchart.

But he later said the two first met while drinking at separate tables in a restaurant on the night, and were on their way to find another drinking spot when the accident happened.

Jaruchart lost control of his bike and fell, hitting his head on the road. His motorcycle hit the rear of the bike driven by Mr Somchai, police said after watching CCTV footage of the accident.

Pol Maj Gen Jiraphob Bhuridet, commander of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), said that he had instructed officers at the CSD’s 4th sub-disivion to examine the scene of the accident, and check footage from all CCTV cameras along the road, and summon all witnesses for questioning.

The CSD has yet to determine the cause of the death or whether there was any hidden motive, Pol Maj Gen Jiraphob said.

The body of Jaruchart was due for cremation at his house in Phan district of Chiang Rai on Sunday. His parents agreed to release the body for an autopsy after conducting the last religious ceremony for him.

Royal Thai Police deputy spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said the autopsy will be conducted at Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital of Chiang Mai University.

“The death of Jaruchart is unnatural, and there is public suspicion about it,” Pol Col Kissana said.

“Police are investigating two aspects of the case. One involves a traffic accident and the other is associated with an autopsy.

“Investigators are awaiting the result of the new autopsy and forensic evidence gathered from the scene.”

Vicha Mahakhun, who was handpicked by the prime minister to chair an independent committee to examine the Vorayuth case, said he will ask Gen Prayut to provide protection for other witnesses in the Vorayuth case.

Mr Vicha also echoed the view that the death of Jaruchart was unnatural and requires an autopsy to allay public suspicion.

Mr Vicha said that the committee should complete its work within 30 days given by the prime minister, but the timeframe may not be enough if the committee has to come up with recommendations on how to improve the efficiency of the entire justice system.

He said the committee will provide the prime minister with an update on its progress every 10 days.

Mr Vicha said the justice system “has now deteriorated with benefits and powers coming into play”. Thailand’s justice system is “in need of an overhaul which has been long overdue”, said Mr Vicha, a former commissioner of the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Meanwhile, Pol Gen Satawat Hirunburana, chairman of a police panel on Mr Vorayuth’s case, said yesterday that he had sent officers to ask medical experts about the chemical substances found in the blood of Mr Vorayuth.

The information will be presented at the panel’s meeting on Monday, he said.

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