Thailand issues prosecution order for Red Bull heir over hit-and-run case

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand on Friday issued a prosecution order for the heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune over his alleged involvement in the hit-and-run killing of a police officer, in a case that has raised questions about impunity for the well-connected.

Vorayuth Yoovidhya was accused of crashing his Ferrari in 2012 into a policeman, Wichien Klanprasert, and dragging his body for dozens of metres before fleeing.

Authorities in July unexpectedly dropped the case, sparking public anger and prompting a government review.

Prayut Phetkun, a deputy spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General, said the prosecution order was issued in relation to Vorayuth’s previous charge of reckless driving causing death and a new charge of cocaine use.

“There was evidence that Vorayuth was driving fast and had used drugs before the incident,” Prayut told Reuters.

The Office of the Attorney-General will ask police to take Vorayuth to court by September, 2022, on the drug use charge and by 2027 on the reckless driving charge, he said.

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.

Last month, a Thai court issued a new arrest warrant.

Vorayuth, the grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, creator of the Krating Daeng, or Red Bull, energy drink was 27 at the time of the accident.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Ed Davies