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Red Bull scion faces cocaine probe

by qualityeducation
Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya is led by police after his hit-and-run crash in Bangkok on Sept 3, 2012. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

A new prosecutors’ panel has ordered police to investigate whether Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya abused cocaine, as well as ordering a reinvestigation into the speed of his Ferrari when it crashed into a police officer in his fatal hit-and-run case in 2012.

Prayut Petcharakhun, executive director of the Office of the Attorney-General’s Department of Criminal Litigation, on Monday said the attorney-general formed the new committee of prosecutors on Aug 4. It has taken over the case following the earlier decision by prosecutors and police not to arraign Mr Vorayuth for reckless driving causing death.

Mr Prayut, a member of the new panel, said that in a Monday meeting, it decided to order police to gather witnesses and evidence concerning the speed of Mr Vorayuth’s car speed and allegations he had abused cocaine.

Police will ask specialists who gave different estimates of the crash speed how they made their calculations, said Ittiporn Kaewtip, deputy director-general of the Department of Criminal Litigation and the head of the new committee.

There was a wide variation in the specialists’ estimates.  Earlier the charge of reckless driving causing death was dropped on the basis there was no evidence that Mr Vorayut had driven at high speed.

Mr Ittiporn said his committee had also ordered police to open a new case of alleged cocaine abuse against Mr Vorayuth because there was sufficient evidence of the illegal drug in Mr Vorayuth’s blood. 

Police would finish the interrogation by Aug 20, Mr Ittiporn said.

Charnchai Chalanonniwat, deputy director-general of the Department of Criminal and the deputy head of the new committee, said police would find out whether Mr Vorayuth had intentionally taken cocaine or if there could be another cause. Their findings would determine whether the case would be prosecuted, he said.

Last week Mr Charnchai said the blood test of Mr Vorayuth after the crash showed the presence of benzoylecgonine and cocaethylene.

Neither chemical was a narcotic in itself, he said, but benzoylecgonine would emerge after cocaine use, while cocaethylene resulted from the use of cocaine and alcohol.Mr Prayut said that cocaine abuse carried a jail term of six months to three years.

“Interrogators were told to gather evidence… This process will bring Mr Vorayuth to justice,” Mr Prayut said.

Mr Vorayuth, 35, also known as Boss, drove a 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).

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