11 July 2024

There was a conspiracy, involving police officers, prosecutors, lawyers, politicians and private individuals, to distort the course of Red Bull heir’s fatal hit and run case.

They used legal loopholes, from the start, with the intention of helping the suspect evade prosecution, said former Election Commissioner Mr. Vicha Mahakhun on Tuesday, as he summed up the findings of a high level probe into the controversial case.

He cited a few instances as clear indications of collusion among officials handling the case to help the suspect, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, who was driving his Ferrari sports car when it was involved in a fatal collision, in which an off-duty police officer, Wichien Klanprasert, lost his life in Bangkok eight years ago.

The charge of drunk driving was deliberately dropped, by the police investigators handling the case, on the flimsy justification that Vorayuth consumed alcohol after the accident, said Mr. Vicha, adding that the investigation of the accident dragged on for six months, giving the suspect an opportunity to leave the country which, in turn, further delayed the legal process, because the suspect could then not be located, although the original team of prosecutors had decided to indict Vorayuth in absentia.

Then there were the 13 filings, by the suspect’s legal team, seeking a review of the case. They were, however, all rejected by prosecutors, according to Mr. Vicha, adding that the lawyers succeeded, however, on the 14th attempt.

He also pointed to alleged collusion in arranging for a lecturer, from King Mongkut Institute of Technology, to challenge the forensic officer’s estimate of Vorayuth speed at the time of the collision, which was originally calculated to be 177kph, claiming the actual speed was under the 80kph limit. They then pressured the forensic officer to change his testimony.

Mr. Vicha, who heads the panel investigating the handling of the case, said they found the former Deputy Attorney-General Nate Narksook had misused his discretion when deciding not to litigate the case, thereby helping Vorayuth avoid prosecution.

The panel has recommended that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha refer the case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Prosecution Commission, the Law Council of Thailand, the Police Commission and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission to consider taking legal and disciplinary action against those allegedly involved in the conspiracy.