Wednesday, July 29, 2020
All charges dropped against Red Bull heir in Ferrari crash that killed cop
July 24, 2020
Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya was driving his Ferrari up to 110 mph before striking and dragging a motorcycle police officer in 2012. (AP)
BANGKOK, Thailand — Prosecutors in Thailand have dropped all charges against a Thai heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune who was accused of killing a Bangkok police officer in a 2012 car crash, officials said Friday.
Police Lt. Col. Thanawuth Sanguansuk confirmed that all charges against Vorayuth Yoovidhya have been dropped. The statute of limitations had run out for several, but the charge of causing death by reckless driving would not have expired for 15 years after the date of the crash.
The case attracted widespread attention because of perceptions that it showed the rich and well-connected have impunity in Thailand’s judicial system, which in recent years has also been criticized for alleged political bias, as have other state institutions.
Thanawuth said prosecutors who handled the case informed police last month of their decision to withdraw the last remaining charge.
“Yes, they had informed us of their opinion to drop all charges. They are citing the fact the family members (of the police officer) have been compensated” by Vorayuth's family, Thanawuth said.
Vorayuth’s family owns about half of the Red Bull empire, which was co-founded by his grandfather. Forbes magazine’s list of the richest families in Thailand places them second, with an estimated wealth of $20.2 billion.
Vorayuth, better known by his nickname “Boss,” was wanted in connection with the Sept. 3, 2012, accident that occurred when he was allegedly roaring down one of Bangkok's main streets at speeds of up to 177 kilometers (110 miles) per hour when his Ferrari struck and killed motorcycle policeman Sgt. Maj. Wichean Klunprasert.
Wichean and his mangled motorcycle were dragged by the Ferrari for several dozen yards before his body fell to the road. Police followed a trail of brake fluid to the Yoovidhya family’s nearby property. The car, which they found there, had a shattered windshield and its bumper was dangling. At first, a chauffeur was blamed for the accident, but Vorayuth later admitted to being the driver. He turned himself in and was released on the equivalent of about $16,000 bail the same day.