Red Bull heir’s hit-and-run case mishandled by 15 top Thai officials, says NACC

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) declared 15 high-ranking police officials and prosecutors culpable for mismanaging the infamous 2012 hit-and-run case connected to the Red Bull heir. Among the implicated are prominent figures including Somyot Poompanmoung, the former national police chief, and Nate Naksuk, the previous deputy attorney-general who had dismissed the residual charges against him, according to NACC spokesperson Niwatchai Kasemmongkol.

Newly appointed education minister and former assistant national police chief Permpoon Chidchob, who officially sanctioned Nate’s decision in June 2020, was also named in the NACC’s Red Bull heir report. Niwatchai described Permpoon’s endorsement as a disciplinary violation, albeit not a grave one.

The incident in question occurred on September 3, 2012, when Vorayuth Boss Yoovidhya, who was 27 years old at the time, hit a motorcycle ridden by Wichian Klanprasert, a senior sergeant major from the Thonglor Police Station, with his Ferrari. Vorayuth then fled the scene, dragging the victim’s body approximately 200 metres without notifying the police.

Following a drawn-out investigation, Vorayuth, the successor to the Red Bull empire, was charged on three counts. His legal team was successful in deferring court appearances eight times before Vorayuth absconded from the country in 2017, reported Bangkok Post.

The decision in 2020 by Nate to dismiss the charge of reckless driving causing death, based on alleged new evidence that pointed the finger at the deceased policeman for the crash, sparked a public uproar. Consequently, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha established a committee to inspect the decision.

Under the leadership of Vicha Mahakun, an ex-NACC commissioner, the committee discovered signs of interference by officials, law enforcement agencies, public prosecutors, lawyers, and witnesses. The implicated reportedly include three prosecutors and multiple high-ranking police officers.

Some of these individuals were alleged to have played a part in altering the car’s speed at the moment of the fatal crash and the sudden emergence of new witnesses. This led to a reduction in the charges against Vorayuth.

The complete findings of Vicha’s report have yet to be made public.

The statute of limitations has expired on all but one charge in the case. However, the charge of reckless driving causing death has been resuscitated and will remain active until 2027.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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