BANGKOK: The heir to the Red Bull billions will be indicted for reckless driving and cocaine use in a fatal hit-and-run, Thailand’s attorney-general said on Friday (Sep 18), following public outrage after his charges were dropped in July.
Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya was accused of killing a police officer in 2012 after crashing his Ferrari in Bangkok, a case which has dragged on for years.
In July, Thailand’s Office of the Attorney-General abruptly dropped charges against him despite having seven years remaining on the statute of limitations.
The move prompted outcry from Thais who saw it as another example of impunity enjoyed by the kingdom’s elite – pressuring authorities to re-investigate the case.
Following a fresh probe from the attorney-general’s office, it announced Friday they will be prosecuting Vorayuth.
“Significant new evidence has appeared in this case which can be used to prosecute the suspect, Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, under the charges of reckless driving causing death,” according to a statement.
“The suspect will also be charged with using cocaine.”
As the grandson to Red Bull co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, the 38-year-old is part of a clan which boasts a net worth of US$20.2 billion – making it Thailand’s second richest family, according to Forbes.
After his previous charges were dropped, Thais took to Twitter to express anger using the hashtag #BoycottRedbull.
Besides the attorney general’s probe, police also opened a re-investigation. A new arrest warrant was issued last month for the fugitive heir, who fled the country in 2017 on a private jet.
Vorayuth’s lawyer, Samack Chouvaparnante, did not answer telephone calls on Friday seeking comment.
Samack has previously said his client denied all charges.
Vorayuth missed eight court summonses before authorities issued an arrest warrant five years after the incident. He later disappeared, apparently abroad, according to social media posts.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha’s office also launched an investigation, which concluded last month that the entire investigation had been “compromised”, with police officers, attorney-generals and political figures involved to “weaken the case”.
Public outrage over the case comes at a particularly tense period for the government as a burgeoning pro-democracy movement has gathered pace with near-daily protests across the country.
Protesters have carried cardboard cut-outs of Red Bull’s logo to symbolise their anger at the administration of Prayut, which enjoys close alliances with the kingdom’s billionaire clans.