The decision follows the dramatic intervention by the PM on Monday to seize the body of 40-year-old, Jaruchart Maadthong, one of two key witnesses who died in a motorbike accident early on Thursday morning in Chiang Mai. A police spokesman in Bangkok has described the death of the witness in the accident as ‘unnatural’ and revealed that local police are investigating inconsistencies in evidence given by a man travelling separately with him at the time. Mr Jaruchart was due to appear before the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday the 5th August to be questioned about his evidence in the case.
Following public outrage, a police investigation into what has been described as an ‘unnatural’ death of a key witness and embarrassing evidence before a House committee on suspected cocaine use by the main suspect at the centre of the controversy, charges are to be filed for a second time against the 35-year-old Red Bull scion Yoravuth Yoovidhya famously known as ‘Boss’ all over again. The key charge against the playboy, regularly seen at world Grand Prix events since he fled Thailand two days ahead of charges in 2017, will be reckless driving causing the death of a patrol police officer on September 3rd 2012. The bizarre sequence of events since police first announced that the former fugitive was free to return home on July 24th without fear of arrest to today’s news that new charges are being brought, raises disturbing questions about Thailand’s system for the administration of justice with the only redeeming development appearing to be the key and effective role played by a House of Representatives Committee whose hearings, commencing last week, making the original decision to drop charges untenable given rising public incredulity. The decision came on Tuesday following a review by a panel at the Office of the Attorney General.
Thai prosecution authorities on Tuesday announced a dramatic U-turn in the case of the Red Bull heir after a panel set up to review evidence in the case of Vorayuth Yoovidhya also known as ‘Boss’ came down in favour of his prosecution reversing an earlier decision.
The Red Bull scion is to be charged by Thai authorities with driving under the influence of narcotics as well as dangerous and reckless driving causing the death of an on-duty policeman on the 3rd September 2012.
It is not quite clear what the legal position is on the statute of limitations on the narcotics charge but the more serious charge, now being taken up again, for causing the death of the policeman will be valid until 3rd September 2027 provided that Mr Vorayuth can be arraigned before a Thai court by that date to answer charges and face a trial.
Police announced on July 24th that Boss Yoravuth was free to return without fear of arrest
It follows an announcement by a senior police spokesman on July 24th last that the 35-year-old man who has been on the run from the law since charges were initially filed against him in 2017, was off the hook.
Boss was free to return to Thailand as the last remaining charge had been dropped by a prosecutor reviewing the case at the Office of Criminal Litigation in Southern Bangkok subsequently revealed as Nate Naksuk, a deputy attorney general assigned to review key cases where complaints and controversy had arisen.
Police advisor described evidence relating to ‘dental cocaine’ at hearing as a ‘misunderstanding’
The new decision comes after several controversies have arisen after a committee of the House of Representatives heard somewhat contradictory evidence from police and medical experts involved in the case last week which one senior police advisor, Police General Satawat Hiranburana, attributed to a misunderstanding.
This followed a reported suggestion by police officers to the committee that cocaine was administered to the suspect at a dental appointment days before the fatal accident.
This drew in Padate Tangngamsakul, the Vice President of the Thai Dental Council, who told the committee afterwards that cocaine had not been used in dentistry for over a century in Thailand.
He also revealed that he had spoken to the dentist involved who had rejected the claim and confirmed that he had given the same evidence to police at the time of their initial enquiries.
Police in the case found to have committed ‘light infractions’ according to June 26th report from the National Anti Corruption Commission
On June 26th last, the National Anti Corruption Commission, looking into the conduct of the case, found a range of officers at Thonglor police station to have committed ‘light’ infractions and recommended that senior police authorities initiate disciplinary action.
This, it was later reported, had already happened with details given by a senior police spokesman of action taken against four serving officers still with the force.
A key aspect of the enquiry was into why police had avoided charging ‘Boss’ Vorayuth with drugs or narcotic charges relating to the accident on September 3rd 2012 in which the on-duty policeman, Sergeant Major Wichian Klanprasert, was killed after being hit by a grey-black Ferrari driven by the then 27-year-old Boss.
Case dossier found on social media detailing evidence that prosecutors used to drop the charges
Over the weekend following the shock announcement that ‘Boss’ Vorayuth was clear to return to Thailand with no charges pending, a report was found to be circulating on social media which indicated that new witnesses and evidence had emerged.
These were later identified as Air Marshall Jakkrit Thanomkulabutr and Jaruchart Maadthong who was driving a black pickup in the early hours of September 3rd 2012.
Mr Jaruchart came forward as a witness to the accident sometime afterwards.
He indicated that the policeman on his motorbike was driving erratically and had, in fact, cut across him moving from the left-hand side of the Sukhumvit road to the right where he was subsequently hit by the Ferrari supercar driven by Mr Vorayuth.
New evidence suggested that ‘Boss’ was driving within the speed limit and that the police officer was culpable in the accident which led to his death
It later has emerged that Mr Jaruchart indicated in his evidence, which was central to the decision by the prosecutor to drop the charges, that the Ferrari was driving at what he ascertained to be 50km to 60km per hour when it hit the policeman’s motorcycle.
However, we subsequently learned that Mr Jaruchart observed this happening behind him while driving away from the accident.
This evidence was backed up by two police officers, reported as expert witnesses, who claimed that the Ferrari was driving at just over 76 km per hour based on their calculations and from analysis of the external damage to the front of the vehicle.
The new evidence found the policeman partially culpable in his own death.
This conflicted with earlier evidence from a physics expert at Chulalongkorn University, Sathon Wicharnwannarakm, who conducted two different tests based on the speed of the car and distance travelled using CCTV footage seconds before impact.
He, at length, concluded that the Ferrari was driving at 177km per hour.
Last week, he said he stood by his evidence which, it is now reported, will be included in a new case against Boss Vorayuth.
Attorney General’s Office spokesman stresses that the decision to drop the charges in July was sound
Prayut Petcharakhun, of the Office of the Attorney General, announcing the new charges being prosecuted against Mr Vorayuth on Tuesday, stressed the decision made at the end of July by the assistant attorney general to drop the charges against the wealthy young man was a ‘sound’ one based on the evidence presented to him and the pursuit of justice.
Consternation following police cocaine evidence
At the end of last week, there was consternation when police officers appeared before the House of Representatives Committee.
Afterwards, an official of the committee indicated they had suggested that the chemical substances signifying cocaine abuse in the blood tests from the suspect, Mr Vorayuth, came from substances administered during a dental appointment that Mr Vorayuth attended on August 29th, 5 days before the accident.
This has led to the dentist in question now facing a professional enquiry by his peers. The dentist categorically denies any such inference.
He also stated that he had earlier made this clear to the police and was perturbed by the assertion in the first place.
Review finds that the Red Bull heir had used cocaine prior to the fatal crash based on blood tests
Now, a review of the case, has shown conclusively that the results of blood tests taken from ‘Boss’ Vorayuth at the Police General Hospital and Ramathibodi Hospital immediately after his arrest on September 3rd 2012 show conclusive evidence of cocaine abuse and the use of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax which is a type 4 stimulant and heavily regulated in Thailand.
Key hospital officials made private notes of the test results which have also fallen into the hands of justice activists following the case.
The tests show that the then 27-year old man had consumed so much alcohol that police concluded that he had imbibed after the accident as the levels showed it would have made it physically impossible for any human being to control a vehicle.
Key witness killed in a freak motorbike accident
Last Thursday, Mr Jaruchart, one of the two new key witnesses, was killed in a freak motorcycle accident in Chiang Mai which police spokesman Police Colonel Kissana Phathanacharoen described as ‘unnatural’ when he revealed on Monday that an emergency autopsy had been ordered.
This came about after it was announced that the Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, had issued an order to seize the body of the 40-year-old who died in the bizarre accident while travelling on a motorway inbound to Chiang Mai early on Thursday morning at 1 am.
Scheduled to appear before the House of Representatives Committee on Wednesday August 5th
He was scheduled to give evidence before the House of Representatives Committee, chaired by Palang Pracharat MP, Sira Jenjaka, which has been leading efforts to uncover why the charges against the Red Bull heir were dropped and raising serious questions about the administration of justice in Thailand while holding all parties connected with the case to account.
Mr Jaruchart’s body was seized before his cremation and final funeral rites and taken to Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital of Chiang Mai University for a full autopsy.
Police raised questions in their investigation into the motorbike accident, autopsy ordered
It appears that this followed concerns raised by police investigating the incident based on their questioning of Mr Jaruchart’s companion on a second motorbike travelling with him when he was killed.
Somchai Tawino told police initially that he did not know the deceased man who had lost control and fallen off his motorbike which then hit the motorbike of Somchai causing his bike also to collapse.
However, he then also told police that he had earlier befriended Mr Jaruchart at a drinking establishment and that the pair were on their way via the Huay Kaew Road to another drinking venue when the bizarre accident occurred.
One of the richest families in Thailand
The Yoovidhya family own the hugely successful Red Bull drink brand through several firms in Thailand, China and in Europe which manufacture and market the stimulating beverage around the world.
The family is listed as the second wealthiest in Thailand with an estimated fortune of $20 billion.
Earlier this year, the Yoovidhya family responded positively to an invitation by the prime minister to make a suggestion on how Thailand could recover economically in the aftermath of the economic devastation caused by the virus.
It presented the government with a proposal that involved a ฿300 million fund to help recovery in the kingdom.
The plan involved targeting the fund, provided by the family, at poor subsistence farmers with the aim of teaching them self sufficiency techniques in farming.