Thailand’s ex-police chief indicted for aiding Red Bull heir evade justice

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The ex-National Police Chief of Thailand, Somyot Poompanmoung, alongside seven other individuals, has been indicted by the Attorney General for alleged involvement in aiding Vorayuth “Boss”‘ Yoovidhya dodge prosecution regarding a 2012 hit-and-run case. Vorayuth is a member of the family that owns the Red Bull empire.

Prayut Phetcharakhun, the spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), reported yesterday during a press briefing that the indictment was initiated based on the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s (NACC) recommendation.

In the previous year, the NACC had accused them of playing a role in the 2020 decision to drop the charges against Vorayuth, involving speeding and hit-and-run, a decision that triggered massive public outrage. This led to the prime minister ordering renewed investigations into the decision-making process, reported Bangkok Post.

Prayut disclosed yesterday, February 27, that the Attorney General had ordered prosecutors from the OAG’s crime suppression bureau to go ahead with the indictment against the accused individuals.

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Former House committee member on law, justice, and police affairs, Somyot, was indicted for malfeasance or dereliction of duty, and for endorsing officers to carry out illegal actions to help Vorayuth evade or receive reduced punishment, among other charges, Prayut reported.

Other individuals facing similar charges include Nate Naksuk, a former deputy attorney-general, Thawatchai Mekprasertsuk, an ex-commander of the Royal Thai Police’s Central Police Forensic Science Division, and Viradol Tabtimdee, a former investigator at Thonglor Police Station.

Education Minister Permpoon Chidchob, who served as an assistant national police chief during the period, was also deemed guilty, albeit on a less serious disciplinary charge, according to the NACC. The NACC plans to request the prime minister to consider initiating disciplinary action against Permpoon as per the Anti-Corruption Act, Prayut stated.

Political ramifications

Earlier, the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) urged the prime minister to reconsider the appointment of Education Minister Permpoon due to allegations of his involvement in helping Vorayuth evade prosecution.

According to MFP MP Teerajchai Phunthumas, Permpoon had adjusted the official speed estimate to below the safety threshold and reassigned police officers keen on issuing a red notice for Vorayuth, leading to the dismissal of the case and Vorayuth’s escape overseas.

Teerajchai pointed out that even though the penalty imposed on Permpoon is disciplinary, the prime minister, who is also the president of the Police Commission, should consider the appropriateness of Permpoon for the education portfolio.

Vorayuth is accused of killing a police officer with his Ferrari in September 2012, a charge he denies. Vorayuth allegedly hit a motorcycle driven by Police Senior Sergeant Major Wichian Klanprasert in the early hours of September 3, 2012, in Bangkok’s Thonglor neighbourhood and drove away from the scene, dragging the victim’s body around 200 metres without notifying the authorities.

Despite facing three charges following an extensive investigation, he has not yet faced justice. After repeatedly failing to appear in court, he escaped the country in 2017. The statute of limitations on some charges has already expired, with the last charge against him, of reckless driving causing death, set to expire in 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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