An independent inquiry ordered by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has concluded that corruption and conspiracy by investigators likely helped Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya escape charges over a fatal hit-and-run crash in 2012.
Prayut, whose administration has long enjoyed close alliances with the kingdom’s billionaire clans, on Tuesday said the Red Bull case cast doubt on the country’s legal and criminal systems.
“There were policemen, attorney generals and people in politics involved,” he said, promising “legal and ethics actions” would be taken against the (at least) 10 individuals implicated in the report handed to him by the Vicha Mahakun-led inquiry.
The prime minister also told the press that a fact-finding panel would be set up to investigate five points highlighted by Vicha’s panel. Vicha is a former head of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and is the current dean of Rangsit University’s Faculty of Law.
The report said Vicha confirmed widespread suspicion that the case had been tainted by corruption and a conspiracy to get Red Bull scion Vorayuth off the hook.
“Evidence clearly indicates that investigators did not work professionally since some allegations were left out of the case report,” said Vicha.
The inquiry discovered that police took about six months to investigate the case but did not send the accused to court, as ordered by the prosecution.
It found evidence of corruption and conspiracy among officials ranging from the raising of false evidence to cooperation between prosecutors, government officials and lawyers to damage the justice process. Vicha likened the corruption to a poisonous tree that produces poisonous fruits.
“We proposed a new investigation, starting from zero,” he said.
He also suggested that the statute of limitations on charges should be suspended for suspects who flee justice.
High-level government officials involved in the case should also be investigated, he said.
Vicha said he would now coordinate with the NACC and Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on further investigation of the case.
Vorayuth is accused of crashing his Ferrari into motorcycle policeman Sergeant Major Wichian Klanprasert in Bangkok’s Thong Lor district and killing him on September 3, 2012, and for using cocaine at the time of the accident.
He fled the country on his private jet in 2017, but his return was widely expected after authorities revealed in July that all charges against him had been dropped.
But a huge public outcry – including hundreds of thousands of people using the hashtag #BoycottRedBull on social media – prompted three new probes, including the latest one set up by the prime minister.
As the grandson to Red Bull co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, the 38-year-old is part of a clan which boasts a net worth of $20.2 billion – making it Thailand’s second richest family, Forbes magazine reported.
THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AFP