A Thai court has issued an arrest warrant for an heir to the Red Bull fortune five years after an alleged crime. For the Thai public, the case has come to symbolize the impunity of the rich and powerful.
A Thai court on Friday approved an arrest warrant for an heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune accused of a deadly hit-and-run incident nearly five years ago, police said hours after they made the application.
The Thai public was watching whether the court would issue an arrest warrant for Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya, whose repeated ability to avoid police summons has come to symbolize the impunity of the rich and connected.
"The prosecutors have decided to no longer allow Vorayuth to seek another delay. This has dragged on for too long and it has affected the attorney general's image," Somnuk Siangkong, spokesman for the office of the attorney general, said earlier in the day.
Vorayuth was 27-years-old when in 2012 his Ferrari allegedly crashed into a motorcycle policeman in Bangkok, killing the officer.
Police spokesman Krisana Pattanacharoen said the court had approved the arrest warrant on charges of a hit-and-run and reckless driving.
"He will be processed like any other suspect who is evading their arrest warrant," said Krisana. "There are tens of thousands of these suspects."
Some of the minor accusations against him have since expired. Yoovidhya denies reckless driving accusations, saying the police officer veered in front of him. Authorities had until 2027 to pursue those charges, but the statute of limitations on the hit-and-run is September.
For nearly five years Vorayuth has failed to show up to summons on several occasions, doing so again on Thursday. Vorayuth's attorney has repeatedly said his client was unable to attend summons due to business or other activities out of the country.
Thursday's failure to show up to another summons appeared to be the final straw, prompting prosecutors to ask police to request an arrest warrant from the court.
Vorayuth has moved in and out of Thailand since the 2012 incident. He was last seen in London in early April, but his current whereabouts are unknown.
The Attorney-General's office said that if Vorayuth was not arrested in Thailand they would seek his extradition. Thailand and the UK have an extradition treaty.
Vorayuth's grandfather Chaleo Yoovidhya co-founded Red Bull with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz in the 1980s.
After Chaleo died in 2012, he left 11 relatives a fortune estimated at nearly 18 billion euros ($20 billion).
cw/rt (AP, dpa, Reuters)