Crime & Justice

Thai deputy attorney general resigns following Red Bull criminal case ruling

By Lobsang DS Subirana

Bangkok, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- Thailand’s deputy attorney general resigned Tuesday evening following the decision to drop deadly hit-and-run charges against the heir of multi-billion energy drink empire Red Bull.

Nate Naksuk tendered his resignation after weeks of public outcry ensued his June decision to drop the charges against Vorayuth Yoovidhya, accused of running over and killing a police officer with his sports car following a 2012 night out in an affluent Bangkok neighborhood.

In a statement released by the Attorney General’s Office, Nate said he was resigning to ease the pressure on the case, adding that he stood by the decision of his ruling, which he said was taken in accordance with all available evidence.

Police followed the trace of motor oil from the scene of the crash to a house in a gated community that hid a mangled Ferrari and a drunk Vorayuth. His lawyer later said the scion had been drinking to ease his stress following the crash. Evidence suggests he had been traveling at 177 kmph when he impacted the motorbike.

The incident epitomized the impunity enjoyed by the wealthy in Thailand, when an Associated Press investigation spotted Vorayuth, 35, leading a jet-setting lifestyle, traveling at leisure internationally, attending events such as Formula One races and ski trips to Japan.

Five years had passed since the hit-and-run, with the case at a standstill following the Red Bull heir’s failure to attend any of the multiple court summonses, citing through his lawyer that he was either ill or occupied with work. In 2017, he was allowed to leave Thailand with the knowledge police were about to issue a warrant for his arrest, which came days after he left. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Nate’s decision to drop the charges was met with outrage, prompting an intervention last month by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who said an independent investigation would be launched over the steps taken to clear the scion of wrongdoing.

The deputy attorney general had allegedly dropped the charges based on new eyewitness reports suggesting the policeman was at fault and that Vorayuth had not been driving over the speed limit. It was later revealed that evidence such as a failed drug test for cocaine had not been included in the investigative report. Police have been given until Aug. 20 to gather more evidence.

Vorayuth is the grandson of Chaleo Yoovidhya, who in the ‘80s partnered with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz to found the Red Bull franchise. The business has an estimated valued of about 20.2 billion dollars. EFE-EPA


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