Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has addressed and rejected outright any speculation linking his brother, Admiral Sitthawat Wongsuwan, with the decision by a prosecutor at the end of June to drop the last remaining charge against Red Bull heir, Vorayuth Yoovidhya. Media sources point out that a request to transfer the file in the case back from the prosecutor’s office for further police input was made to a committee of the former National Legislative Assembly during the rule of the military junta chaired by the Deputy PM’s brother.
A physics expert at Chulalongkorn University and key expert witness in the now-closed case against Red Bull heir Boss, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, has said he stands by his testimony that the suspect’s luxury Ferrari was travelling at 177 km per hour just seconds before it collided with a Thai police sergeant on a motorbike in the early hours of Monday morning the 3rd September 2012, on the Sukhumvit Road, when Sergeant Major Wichian Klanprasert tragically lost his life. It comes as Deputy Prime Minister Wongsuwan has also rejected any speculation that his brother was linked to the decision to drop the last remaining charge against Mr Vorayuth announced out of the blue by police on Friday last, July 24th.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister and ruling party leader, Prawit Wongsuwan, has rubbished any suggestion that either he or his family played any part in the recent bombshell decision to drop the last remaining criminal charge against Red Bull scion, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the youngest son of the Chairman of Red Bull, Chalerm Yoovidhya.
‘My family has never known the family,’ General Prawit revealed on Thursday. ‘Personally, I have never known him.’
The Deputy PM made it clear that his brother, Admiral Sitthawat Wongsuwan, never had any power either to consider or decide on the prosecution of a criminal charge against the suspect in this case. He indicated that he was surprised that such an association could be made.
Decision to drop the charge made in June at the South Bangkok prosecutor’s office after a review of updated evidence including new witnesses
The decision to drop the charge of causing the death, through reckless driving, of Police Sergeant Major Wichian Klanprasert on the 3rd September 2012 was taken by an official at the Bangkok South Office of Criminal Litigation at the end of June.
This week, it emerged that the police had come forward with two new witnesses who had seen the accident occur.
They reported that the victim in the case, Sergeant Major Wichian, had been driving erratically and had swerved from the left-hand side of the road to the far right where it collided with Boss Vorayuth’s luxury Ferrari car.
Expert witnesses, now reported to be two police officers, testified that from the damage seen to the car and the policeman’s motorbike, they were of the opinion that Mr Vorayuth could not have been driving at more than 80 km per hour and suggested that the figure was 76.17 km per hour.
Corruption body found the police guilty of ‘light’ infringements linked with the case on June 26th
The controversial decision to drop the charge is reported to have come at around the same time as a report from the National Anti Corruption Commission, published on June 26th, into the investigation. It found officers involved in the case at Thonglor Police station guilty of ‘light’ disciplinary infringements including dereliction of duty.
It also coincided with a warning by a deputy spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office at the time, Prayut Petchun, that the clock was running down for the police to track down the suspect because of the statute of limitations.
Boss Vorayuth had fled Thailand in April 2017, just days before charges were pressed against him.
Number of urgent enquiries now underway in response to public outrage in the last week
In the aftermath of public outrage following confirmation from police on Friday 24th July that the outstanding charge against the now 35-year old man had been dropped and that he was free to return to Thailand, several investigative panels have been set up by the Attorney General and also at the behest of the Prime Minister, to get to the bottom of why the case against the runaway was dropped.
Two additional charges, for failing to stop and offer assistance at the scene of an accident and speeding were rendered void through Thailand’s statute of limitations in 2017 and 2013 respectively, the final charge was due to expire on September 3rd 2027.
This means that one of the charges brought against the Red Bull heir was already expired and another had just six months to expire when he was first charged in 2017, just days after he fled Thailand and nearly five years after the accident.
Defunct National Legislative Assembly committee requested that prosecutors seek new input from police
News reports, this week, have linked the controversy to a decision by the Committee on Justice, at the now-defunct National Legislative Assembly, which tasked the prosecutor’s office to review the case and seek clarification from the police.
The Chairman of this committee was the brother of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit, Admiral Sitthawat Wongsuwan.
The request to the committee was made by a lawyer acting on behalf of the Yoovidhya family named as Mr Samak.
Original forensic expert, a lecturer on Physics at Chulalongkorn University, stands by his original evidence to prosecutors that the Ferrari was speeding
This week, the original forensic expert who testified to police that the car had been travelling at 177km per hour has reconfirmed his analysis and says he stands by his evidence to prosecutors.
Sathon Vijarnwannaluk is a lecturer in Physics at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Science.
He established his thinking on the case after looking at a CCTV video taken from a commercial premises on Sukhumvit Soi 53.
The footage was taken just 100 metres from where the accident took place or within seconds of impact.
This showed the Ferrari car entering the frame and disappearing within 1 second. Based on this analysis, given that the width of the scene was 30 meters, Mr Sathon concluded that the vehicle was moving at more than 108km per hour.
He subsequently set up two specialist teams to analyse the speed of the car through two different approaches in more depth.
One team suggested a speed of 177 km per hour while the other suggested 174 km per hour.
Yoovidhya family siblings call on Boss ‘Vorayuth’ to address the case to allay public concerns
On Thursday, a letter, dated Wednesday, signed by eight family members including siblings of the former suspect who is now free of all charges, called on him to address the controversy and clarify his role so as to allay public concern.
The letter offered an apology to the public and acknowledged the public outrage that has been generated by the prosecutor’s decision to close the case.
‘While we cannot renounce our Yoovidhya blood ties with Mr Vorayuth, we can say that since the case began, Mr Vorayuth’s immediate family has never consulted us over the issue,’ the eight Yoovidhya family members declared. ‘We also do not agree with Mr Vorayuth’s many decisions in the case.’