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Thursday 21 November 2019

Thai police get arrest warrant for Red Bull heir over fatal crash

Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya is accused of a deadly hit-and-run accident almost five years ago (AP)
Chief prosecutor Suthi Kittisupaporn talks to reporters after Vorayuth Yoovidhya missed deadline to answer a summons

Police in Thailand say they have obtained an arrest warrant for an heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune accused of a deadly hit-and-run accident.

The warrant issued by a Bangkok court could move the case forward after almost five years without charges being pressed.

Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya is accused of fleeing the scene of a 2012 crash in his Ferrari after allegedly hitting a police officer on motorcycle patrol.

Vorayuth's family, half-owners of the Red Bull empire, has estimated wealth of more than 20 billion US dollars (£15 billion).

Police spokesman Krisana Pattanacharoen said the court approved the arrest warrant on charges of hit-and-run and reckless driving.

The state prosecutor asked for police action after Vorayuth missed Thursday's deadline to answer a summons.

Mr Krisana said: "He will be processed like any other suspect who is evading their arrest warrant. There are tens of thousands of these suspects."

The case has drawn attention as an example of the impunity of Thailand's rich and well-connected, who are able to avoid or delay justice in a way ordinary Thais would not be able to.

Vorayuth's whereabouts are unknown.

"Whenever he steps into Thailand, we should be able to get him," national police chief General Chaktip Chaijinda told reporters ahead of the warrant being granted.

Vorayuth failed to appear for meetings with prosecutors on several occasions, complaining through his lawyer of unfair treatment or citing duties abroad.

A recent report revealed he had been living lavishly, travelling to Formula One races, snowboarding in Japan and cruising in Venice.

Vorayuth failed to show up when ordered to face criminal charges of speeding, hit-and-run, and deadly, reckless driving.

Police say he disputes the reckless driving charge, claiming the officer swerved in front of him. The speeding charge expired after a year, and the charge of hit-and-run, which police say carries a penalty of up to six months in jail, expires on September 3.

The reckless driving charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, expires after 10 years if left unchallenged.

Gen Chaktip said police would follow their usual procedures to secure Vorayuth's arrest if he is abroad, although the possibility of extradition depends on the countries involved.


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