Thailand’s fugitive Red Bull heir still wanted for 2012 fatal hit and run charge, which may soon expire

Thailand’s fugitive Red Bull heir still wanted for 2012 fatal hit and run charge, which may soon expire
Michelle De Pacina
August 2, 2022
Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, Thailand’s Red Bull heir and the man who killed an officer in a hit-and-run incident in 2012, is still wanted for one remaining charge.
Yoovidhya, the grandson of Red Bull’s co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, became a fugitive after he struck and killed police officer Wichian Klanprasert with his Ferrari while speeding through Thong Lor in Bangkok on Sept. 3, 2012. 
Interpol issued a red notice to arrest the fugitive after he fled Thailand on a private jet in 2017. To this day, his whereabouts remain unknown.
Yoovidhya, who had been intoxicated at the time of the crash, admitted to hitting the officer, according to the police. He was previously charged with speeding, hit-and-run driving and reckless driving causing damage to another person. 
During the investigation, Yoovidhya was not cooperative as he repeatedly ignored police summonses and failed to appear in court numerous times. He reportedly paid the victim’s family nearly $100,000 in compensation while he resumed his lavish lifestyle, traveling around the world on private Red Bull jets and staying in luxury hotels.
The infamous case is viewed as an example of how Thailand’s elite are able to escape the criminal justice system. 
“[Vorayuth] is powerful, has many connections and a lot of money,” Pornanand Glanprasert, the victim’s older brother, reportedly said in a 2013 interview. “If you are common people like us, I think the case is already finished. He is going to try very hard not to be charged — or at the very least to get a suspended sentence or no punishment at all.”
In July 2020, all charges against Yoovidhya were dropped. However, public outrage led to investigations launched by various government agencies. Tests conducted after the crash revealed that Yoovidhya’s blood contained traces of cocaine during the incident. In August 2020, the attorney general’s office assigned new charges of cocaine use and reckless driving causing death against Yoovidhya.
On Monday, Deputy Spokesperson of the Office of the Attorney-General Prayuth Phetchkhun said the criminal charge against Yoovidhya for “cocaine use” had expired due to revisions made to the country’s Narcotics Act of 1979. The revisions changed the arrest warrant’s limitation from 10 years to five years, causing the charge to automatically expire. 
The revisions reduced the imprisonment sentence of cocaine users from up to three years to no longer than a year. The drug abuse charge against Yoovidhya was previously expected to expire on Sept. 3 this year.
The remaining charge against the fugitive is “reckless driving causing death,” which is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment. The charge is expected to expire on Sept. 3, 2027, leaving Thailand with around five years to track down Yoovidhya and arrest him.
Featured Image via CNA (left), AP Archive (right)
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