New arrest warrant issued for Red Bull heir in Thai hit-and-run case

Vorayuth ‘Boss’ Yoovidhya is seen getting in a car as he leaves a house in London on April 5, 2017. (AP pic)

BANGKOK: Bangkok’s criminal court has approved a fresh arrest warrant for the heir to the Red Bull billions accused of a fatal hit-and-run, police said Tuesday, following public outrage after his charges were dropped last month.

Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya was accused of killing a police officer in 2012 when he crashed his Ferrari in Bangkok’s most exclusive neighbourhood.

The case dragged on for years and Vorayuth — grandson of Red Bull co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya and one of the heirs to the family fortune — fled the kingdom in 2017.

Last month, authorities said all charges against “Boss” had been dropped — sparking widespread anger as the Thai public perceived the move as another example of impunity enjoyed by the kingdom’s powerful billionaire class.

The National Police announced Tuesday that the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court had issued a new arrest warrant for “Boss”.

“The three charges on the warrant include reckless driving causing death, failing to stop his car to help the victim and failing to immediately inform authorities, and illegally taking cocaine,” said spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen.

The news last month that Vorayuth’s charges were dropped despite seven years remaining on the statute of limitations drew outrage among Thais who took to Twitter to launch the trending hashtag #BoycottRedBull.

Under growing pressure, the attorney-general’s office, police and the prime minister’s office each opened probes into the dropped charges.

It also led to a rare statement by eight members of the sprawling Yoovidhya clan — considered Thailand’s second-richest family according to Forbes — who broke ranks to decry it.

The Red Bull case served as a fresh conduit for anger against Prayut’s administration — which enjoys close alliances with Thailand’s billionaire clans — as it struggles with a flatlining economy due to the epidemic.

Since mid-July, the kingdom has seen near-daily student-led protests demanding for the resignation of the former army chief, an overhaul of the government and reforms to the powerful monarchy.