A Ferrari driver who allegedly slammed into a motorcycle police officer, dragged him along the road and then sped away from the mangled body took just hours to find, as investigators followed a trail of brake fluid into the gated estate of one of Thailand’s richest families.
However, the prosecution of Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya has been delayed almost five years.
When Yoovidhya, 31, has been called in to face authorities, he has not shown up, claiming through his attorney that he is sick or out of the country on business. And while statutes of limitations run out on key charges this year, it is widely assumed he is hiding, possibly abroad, or quietly living locally, only going out in disguise. He is not.
Within weeks of the accident, Yoovidhya was back to enjoying his family’s jet-set life, largely associated with the Red Bull brand, an energy drink company cofounded by his grandfather. He flies around the world on Red Bull jets, cheers their Formula One racing team from VIP seats and keeps a black Porsche Carrera in London with a custom plate: B055 RBR. Boss Red Bull Racing.
And he is not hard to find.
Last month, social media clues led reporters to Yoovidhya in the sacred city of Luang Prabang, Laos, where he and his family enjoyed a US$1,000-a-night resort, visited temples and lounged by the pool.
Critics say inaction in this case epitomizes longstanding privilege for the wealthy in Thailand, a politically tumultuous country that has struggled with rule of law for decades.
The Yoovidhya family attorney did not respond to a request to interview Vorayuth Yoovidhya.
Police say Yoovidhya is once again on notice to show up and hear the charges. He is due at the prosecutors’ office tomorrow.
Yoovidhya and his siblings grew up in a private, extended family whose fortune expanded from millions to billions of US dollars. His brother is nicknamed Porsche, his sister Champagne. Yoovidhya received a British education at a US$40,000-a-year boarding school.
In rural Thailand, police Sergeant Major Wichean Glanprasert did not have such opportunities, but he was ambitious. The youngest of five, he was the first to leave their coconut and palm farm for the city, the first to get a government job, to graduate from college.
He paid for his parents’ medical care and supported a sister through cancer. He had no children, but planned to put his brother’s kids through college.
Their lives collided pre-dawn on Sept. 3, 2012, when Yoovidhya’s Ferrari roared down Sukhumvit Road, one of Bangkok’s main streets.
The bloody accident scene made national headlines for days.
The police officer’s family grieved, but they figured at least there would be justice. Wichean was a police officer. Certainly the system would hold his killer responsible.
“At first I thought they’d follow a legal process,” his brother Pornanan said.
Now he is not so sure.
“We will not let this police officer die without justice. Believe me,” Bangkok Police Commissioner Comronwit Toopgrajank said in the days after the accident.
As the case unfolded, the Yoovidhya family attorney said Yoovidhya left the scene not to flee, but to tell his father.
Yoovidhya’s blood alcohol levels were high because he drank once he got home to settle his nerves, the attorney said.
Wichean’s family accepted a settlement, about US$100,000. In turn, they promised not to press criminal charges.
“Blood money,” said Pornanan, whose share sits in the bank.
Meanwhile, Yoovidhya failed to show up when ordered to face criminal charges of speeding, hit-and-run, and deadly, reckless driving.
Police say Yoovidhya disputes the reckless-driving charge, claiming the officer swerved in front of him. The speeding charge expired after one year. The more serious charge of hit-and-run, which police say carries a penalty of up to six months in jail, expires in September.
Complicating matters, Yoovidhya’s attorney has repeatedly filed petitions claiming unfair treatment in the investigation.
Police say it is up to prosecutors to charge him.
Prosecutors say extra investigation is needed, but would not specify.
Thammasat University law professor Pokpong Srisanit said the situation is “not normal,” but does appear legal.
Last year the Bangkok Post said that after paying the settlement in 2012, Yoovidhya “has been out of the country or otherwise unable to answer the criminal case against him in the years since.”
A few weeks after the article appeared, a photograph of Yoovidhya was posted online.
He was on the beach at a seaside resort south of Bangkok.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against