‘Money talks, criminal walks’: Thailand seethes over decision to clear ‘Boss Red Bull’

Activists and political figures today joined those decrying the decision to drop the last charge against accused cop killer and Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya.

Condemnations mixed with demands for answers and at least one call the investigators to be investigated on Friday after prosecutors and police decided Vorayuth would not face justice for the death of a policeman he was charged with killing in 2012.

“The case of #BossYoovidhya is another example to answer the doubts Thai people have always had about the country’s justice system,” opposition MP Rangsiman Rome of the Move Forward Party said in a tweet. “There is no way people from the poor and middle class can flee warrants and live freely outside the country for eight years and end with all charges against them clear.” 

Rome is also a member of the parliamentary legal affairs committee.

Activist attorney Srisuwan Janya, an inveterate filer of complaints, said he would ask the National Anti-Corruption Commission to look into the prosecutors and police involved in the case. He noted that the charge of reckless driving causing death – the only one of five which hadn’t expired – had another seven years on the clock. 

Vorayuth has been a fugitive from justice for eight years in a case held up as the prime example of the impunity enjoyed by Thailand’s wealthiest. He refused to answer numerous summons and later fled the country after admitting to killing a Thonglor policeman Sgt. Maj. Wichian Klanprasert with his Ferrari. Vorayuth was allegedly driving at high speed when he struck Wichian, who was on a motorcycle. Wichian’s body was dragged over 200 meters under the car.

In 2012, charges of drunk driving, speeding, failure to stop his car to help the victim, and reckless driving causing property damage and death were filed against him. Over the years, those charges were either dropped or expired.

Vorayuth, aka “Boss Red Bull,” has been spotted jet-setting around the globe. He even attended racing events held by Red Bull, the energy drink giant co-founded by his grandfather Chaleo Yoovidhya. Three years ago, Associated Press reporters tracked him down to a tony London neighborhood where he was living in hiding.

His father Chalerm Yoovidhya was ranked Thailand’s second-richest person by Forbes this year, with an estimated net worth of USD 20.2 billion (THB 641 billion).

Ever since police spokesman Col. Krissana Pattanachareon announced that police had agreed with prosecutors on their decision to dismiss the last charge, the public has been seething.

Krissana said Vorayuth was now an innocent man and would be welcomed back to Thailand. #BossYoovidhya was trending atop Thai Twitter throughout Friday, with people lining up to denounce the news.

“Thailand is a land of smiles, and smiling elite murderers,” @Honestyisbest8 wrote.

“Money talks. Criminal walks. Shame on Thai justice system,” @Kimmybkk tweeted.

“Pls stop drinking RED BULL!! Stop supporting the murderer if you’re still humane. If money is power, then they shouldn’t deserve our money to do such a cruel thing to another person,” wrote @Foamuline.

Calls to Thonglor police for their reaction Friday went unanswered as of publication time.

The police spokesman rejected accusations that the police had sided with the rich, saying it was the force itself that was the aggrieved party. 

Over the years, investigators slow-walked the investigation and it seemed to halt anytime media attention moved elsewhere. No serious attempt to have him extradited was attempted beyond asking Interpol to post a notice.

Krissana added that Wichian’s family could file new complaints if more evidence or witnesses emerged. Vorayuth’s family reportedly has already paid them at least THB3 million in compensation.


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