In perhaps the least-surprising development in the latest chapter of the Boss Yoovidhya saga, Thailand’s Office of the Attorney General on Tuesday reversed its decision to drop charges against the heir to the Red Bull empire amid universal condemnation.
Following a hasty review of its own decision to drop charges against Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, prosecutors said they would recommend police build a case for illegal use of cocaine and reckless driving resulting in death to present to them for prosecution.
The dramatic U-turn should have shocked no one, as the move to drop the last of the criminal charges pending against Vorayuth, announced July 24, went so far beyond Thailand’s ridiculously generous definition of corruption that even Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha called for the case to be revived.
The attorney general earlier said the decision had been made in June by the Office of Special Prosecutors for Criminal Litigation and he didn’t learn of it until it was reported in the media. Police also tried to defend the decision, saying it was out of their hands and was based on new evidence.
There was no way to defend or downplay a move that so blatantly conveyed favoritism toward the country’s second-richest family and proved to the public that there were two legal systems – one for the masses and one for the elites. The only way to save face was to shift into reverse and throw the Boss baby to the wolves. Even his parents had pleaded with Vorayuth to stop his jet-setting in exile and come clean.
Prosecutors, of course, tried to spin the decision to reinvestigate Vorayuth as based on the discovery of “new” evidence. The evidence is not new. It was just ignored for eight years so police and prosecutors could bury the case.
Exhibit No. 1 of this “new evidence is the 2012 determination by a forensics expert that Vorayuth was traveling at 177 kilometers an hour in his Ferrari when he hit the motorcycle driven by Thonglor Pol. Sgt. Major Wichien Klanprasert, dragging him down the street for 100 meters.
Vorayuth told police he was traveling only about 60 kph, so, conveniently, the forensics report was never included in the official case file. When a new witness came forward this year confirming he was traveling at no more than 80 kph, it led the OAG to drop the charges.
Ironically, that witness, Charuchart Martthong, was killed in a motorbike wreck in Chiang Mai last month. Authorities ruled it an accident.
Exhibit No. 2 in the “new” evidence case was the toxicology report from 2012. Testing found Vorayuth’s blood showed both the presence of benzoylecgonine and cocaethylene, as well as enough alcohol to make an elephant drunk.
Police at first assumed Boss was driving drunk when he hit Wichien, but later threw out a drunk driving charge arguing that, he was so drunk, he wouldn’t have been able to drive and, thus, Vorayuth must have gone on a bender once he’d arrived home in his blood-spattered sports car.
The other two chemicals were again never included in the case file even though benzoylecgonine is produced by the body after ingesting cocaine and cocaethylene results from cocaine mixed with alcohol.
Police told the panel investigating the dropped-charges decision they had not pressed the drug charge because Vorayuth’s dentist told them medicines including cocaine had been used on his recent dental procedures. They took him at his word even though dentists across the country debunked the assertion.
Thus, prosecutors decided they will, after all, pursue the 2017 reckless driving charge they had tried to drop, and add the cocaine-use charge.
“This case is not over because the law says if there is new evidence, we are able to proceed,” OAG spokesman Prayut Phetkun told the media Tuesday.