Thailand’s fugitive Red Bull heir is still wanted for a deadly 2012 hit-and-run charge that could soon expire

Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, Thailand’s Red Bull heir and the man who killed an officer in a hit-and-run attack in 2012, is still wanted on one outstanding charge.

Yoovidhya, the grandson of Red Bull co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, became a fugitive after beating and killing a police officer Wichian Klanprasert with his Ferrari as he drove through Thong Lor in Bangkok on September 3, 2012.

Interpol gave a red message to arrest the fugitive after he fled Thailand on a private jet in 2017. To this day, his whereabouts are unknown.

Yoovidhya, who was intoxicated at the time of the crash, admitted to punching the officer, according to police. He was previously charged with speeding, overdriving and reckless driving resulting in injury to another person.

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During the investigation, Yoovidhya did not cooperate, as he repeatedly ignored the appeal of the police and failed to appear in court several times. He allegedly paid the victim’s family almost $100,000 in compensation as he resumed his lavish lifestyle, traveling the world on private Red Bull jets and staying in luxury hotels.

The infamous case is seen as an example of how the Thai 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’re regular people like us, I think the case is already done. He will try very hard not to get charged – or at least get a suspended sentence or no sentence at all.”

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In July 2020, all charges against Yoovidhya were dropped. However, public outcry led to investigations by several government agencies. Tests conducted after the crash revealed that Yoovidhya’s contained blood traces of cocaine during the incident. In August 2020, the Attorney General’s Office assigned new costs of cocaine use and reckless driving resulting in death against Yoovidhya.

On Monday, Deputy Attorney General’s Office spokesman Prayuth Phetchkhun said the criminal charges against Yoovidhya for “cocaine use” had expired as a result of revisions to the country’s Narcotics Act of 1979. The revisions changed the 10-year arrest warrant limitation to five years, automatically dropping the charges.

The revisions reduced prison terms for cocaine users from a maximum of three years to a maximum of one year. The drug abuse charge against Yoovidhya was previously expected to end on September 3 this year.

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The remaining charge against the fugitive is “reckless driving resulting in death”, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The charges are expected to end on September 3, 2027, giving Thailand about five years to track down and arrest Yoovidhya.

Featured image via CN (left), AP archive (Turn right)

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