Thai police ask Interpol's help in finding Red Bull heir

A file picture dated Sept 3, 2012 shows Vorayuth Yoovidhya.
A file picture dated Sept 3, 2012 shows Vorayuth Yoovidhya.PHOTO: EPA

Thai police are seeking Interpol's help in locating the whereabouts of Red Bull heir Mr Vorayuth Yoovidhya following an arrest warrant issued last week over a 2012 hit-and-run and reckless driving case that killed a motorcycle cop.

Royal Thai Police's foreign affairs division commander Pol Maj Gen Apichart Suribunya said on Monday that they will also seek Vorayuth's extradition if he is in Britain. Vorayuth was last seen in London prior to his April 27 indictment, which he failed to attend. His lawyers said he was on business in Britain and was unable to return to the country.

But public outrage and mounting pressure over how the case has been handled finally prompted authorities to seek an arrest warrant last week after Vorayuth failed to show up in court for the eighth time since legal proceedings against him started in 2016.

Maj-Gen Apichart said they would also seek the assistance of other countries to locate Vorayuth should authorities fail to find him in Britain.

The Office of the Attorney General will also ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cancel the passport of Vorayuth, who according to previous reports has been travelling with family and friends over the past four and a half years.

 

The case has been used as an example in citing double standards in Thailand's justice system, favouring the wealthy and powerful.

Vorayuth is a grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, creator of the energy drink Kratin Daeng, or "red bull" in Thai. Chaleo's net worth at the time of his death in 2012 was estimated at US$5 billion ($6.98 billion), according to Forbes magazine.

Vorayuth, who was 27 at the time of the accident, faces a possible 10-year sentence for reckless driving resulting in death. The statute of limitations for this charge is until Sept 3, 2027, while the charge on failing to help a crash victim expires on Sept 3 this year.

 

Charges of speeding and reckless driving causing damage to others' property have been dropped because their one-year statute of limitations has expired.

Road safety campaigner Ratanawadee Winther hopes Vorayuth's case will raise awareness over the issue of safety in Thailand's roads, including over-speeding.

"It's really unfortunate to have this kind of incident in Thailand but ... it's also good that people will think or look at it a lot more," she said.