Ex-Thai police chief to be charged

The accused and his aide: Somyot (right) is accused of using his capacity as a member of a parliamentary legal committee to help Vorayuth’s (left) case. — AP

Thai public prosecutors said they would charge an ex-police chief for helping the heir of the Red Bull energy drink fortune avoid prosecution after he was accused of killing a police officer in a hit-and-run in 2012.

Somyot Poompanmoung, a former head of Thai police, and seven other officials were indicted for not performing their duties and for aiding an individual to avoid punishment, the Attorney-General’s office said in a statement.Somyot, 69, was accused of using his capacity as a member of a parliamentary legal committee to help Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya’s case, according to the statement on Tuesday.

Somyot told Thai media that he denied the accusations. Reuters could not immediately reach the other officials for comment.

Vorayuth is the grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, creator of the energy drink Krating Daeng, or Red Bull.

In 2012, aged 27, he was accused of crashing his Ferrari into a policeman, Wichien Klanprasert, and dragging his body for dozens of metres before fleeing.

The charges had included speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death.

Vorayuth missed eight court summonses over the case before authorities issued an arrest warrant five years after the incident.

He disappeared, apparently abroad, according to previous media reports. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Thailand’s police said in 2020 they would look into why criminal charges were later dropped – a decision which stirred public anger about the country’s entrenched culture of impunity for the rich and well-connected.

Forbes ranks the family second-richest in Thailand with a net worth of US$33.4bil (RM159.3bil). — Reuters

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