Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday that he was “not ok” with the handling of the hit-and-run case of Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya as many aspects were unclear.
In an address to the Bangkok Post Forum 2020 at Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao hotel, Gen Prayut said the case drew public attention, challenged the systems of justice and laws and affected public faith in the whole government sector.
“I would like to express my standpoint in the Boss Red Bull case, that I am not OK with many aspects that remain unclear. I want transparency. I will push for it and I will follow up the matter closely,” Gen Prayut said. He used the term, “phom mai OK”.
The prime minister said he would take action in accordance with his authority and laws after a committee that he formed to handle the case reaches its conclusion.
The committee was independent and comprised people society recognised for their knowledge and impartiality, Gen Prayut said.
“I do not want anything that erodes confidence,” he said.
The prime minister was referring to the fact-finding committee headed by former anti-graft commissioner Vicha Mahakhun.
The committee was set up after prosecutors and the police agreed to not arraign Mr Vorayuth on a charge of reckless driving causing the death of a policeman in Bangkok in 2012.
Widespread criticism of the decision prompted the Office of the Attorney-General to form a committee to look into it. The panel recommended a re-investigation.
Mr Vorayuth, 35, also known as Boss, drove the black Ferrari that killed Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert, 47, in the early morning of Sept 3, 2012.
He crashed into the rear of the police motorcycle on Sukhumvit Road. He then fled the scene to his home nearby.
He delayed hearing charges seven times. It was not until April 27, 2017, that prosecutors finally charged him with reckless driving causing death and failing to help a crash victim.
He fled on a private plane two days before he was due to face the charges.
A speeding charge was later dropped when the one-year statute of limitation expired. A second charge, failing to stop and help a crash victim, expired on Sept 3, 2017.
The third and most serious charge, reckless driving causing death, would have remained on the books until 2027.
Mr Vorayuth is the son of Chalerm Yoovidhya, whose family co-owns the energy drink megabrand Red Bull and ranks second on Thailand’s richest list, with a net worth estimated at US$20 billion (about 617 billion baht).
Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya when he was arrested in Bangkok in 2012. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)