On October 12, 2022, high-profile lawyer Sukit Poonsrikasem posted on his Facebook wall about the case of Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhaya who stands accused of crashing his Ferrari into Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichean Klaprasert and dragging his body along the road before fleeing the scene.
Mr Sukit defended Mr Vorayuth against the accusations.
@ The background and issues
On September 3, 2012 around five o’ clock in the morning, a Ferrari collided with the motorcycle being ridden by Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichean who was attached to Thong Lor Police station, killing him.
Following the incident, a Thong Lor police inspector escorted Suwet Hom-Ubon, a housekeeper of the Yoovidhya family, to surrender to police investigators, claiming that he was the person behind the wheel of the Ferrari.
Mr Suwet said he turned himself in order to repay the kindness of the Yoovidhya family. However, Mr Vorayuth later admitted that he was driving the car.
The police investigation team led by Pol Col Wiradon Tuptimdee filed a lawsuit against the accused who confessed to his crime. A judge ordered a jail sentence after the accused pleaded guilty to the offense. Prosecutors did not appeal the judge’s decision.
The move had sparked public outrage, which Mr Sukit sees as a threat to judicial independence.
Thong Lor police were accused of coming up with false evidence, trying to cover up the crime by turning Mr Sumet in to police as a scapegoat, and releasing fake news that the body of the policeman was dragged by the luxury car for as far as 200 meters down the road following the fatal crash.
According to a statement made by prosecutor to the Police Committee, however, no road rash were found on the body of Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichean.
Mr Vorayuth or “Boss” later turned himself in to police investigators and pleaded in the alternative. He admitted that he hit the policeman. But he claimed that the policeman’s motorcycle had cut in front of him. Mr Vorayuth was tested and found to have excessive alcohol in his blood. But he said this was from drinking at home after the accident.
Mr Vorayuth faced several charges following the fatal crash and was released on bail. He left Thailand for an unknown destination. Since the accident, he has managed to avoid appearing in court as he has remained abroad. It seems that the police are not serious about having him extradited to stand trial in Thailand.
This has caused widespread outrage.
Authorities and officials within the judiciary including investigating officers, public prosecutors, supervisors, members of the National Legislative Assembly, politicians and lawyers have been accused of interfering with the Central Police Forensic Science Division’s operation, abusing power, creating false evidence and conducting a conspiracy for trying to help Mr Vorayuth.
Authorities have worked under pressure from society.
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered that a panel be set up chaired by Vicha Mahakun, a former member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, to look into the alleged mishandling in the hit-and-run case involving the Red Bull scion amid public outage over public prosecutors’ decision not to indict Mr Vorayuth.
The investigation by the Vicha-led committee revealed that new pieces of evidence involved statements where witnesses had recanted their testimony.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) then ordered the Royal Thai Police (RTP) and Thong Lor Police Station to take legal action against Mr Vorayuth in response to the Vicha-led panel’s recommendations.
In Mr Sukit’s view, the move opposes the Rule of Law.
@ Facts and case summary
On September 3, 2012 around five o’clock in the morning, police said they were alerted to a fatal crash on Sukhumvit Soi 45 where a Ferrari had slammed into the motorcycle of Thong Lor policeman Wichian Klanprasert, killing him.
Police investigators filed charges of reckless driving causing death, reckless driving causing damage to assets and failing to stop and help a crash victim against Mr Vorayuth.
In this case, Mr Sukit said what must be considered is whether the accused is found guilty as charged.
The lawyer argued that:
Police said that testimony given by eye-witness Jaruchart Madthong obtained during questioning is the same as what is shown on the playback of CCTV footage from a street camera near the crime scene.
Jaruchart told police who questioned him that the accused was driving at a normal speed when the accident happened. Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichean was riding his motorbike in the far left lane with no lights. The policeman then lost control of his motorbike and moved across into the lane in which the accused was driving and cut in front of him.
Citing the autopsy report, police said no signs of road rash were found on the policeman’s body.
Mr Sukit said that if consideration were given to the incident based on the CCTV footage, the oral evidence stating that Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichean was not riding in his lane when the accident took place, combined with his autopsy report, Mr Vorayuth would not be guilty of the crime.
Pol Lt Col Surapol Dejrattanawichai, who is an expert witness, said the accused was driving at less than 80 kilometers per hour when the accident occurred.
It can be assumed that the policeman had changed lanes abruptly, making it difficult for the accused to avoid crashing into him no matter how fast he was driving.
Therefore, the crash was not clearly identified as the direct cause of death of Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichean in spite of witness recantation.
Pol Col Thanasit Tangjan, who calculated the speeds of the cars, recanted his testimony on the condition of the vehicles involved in the accident.
However, police investigators and public prosecutors decided not to include Pol Lt Col Surapol’s statements and the results of the car’s speed at the time of the accident as evidence in the case.
This doesn’t affect the prosecution according to the verdict of Supreme Court. That means the defendant has not been proven guilty of reckless driving, causing death as charged according to the judgement of Supreme Court 4883/2553.
It should be noted that Prime Minister Gen Prayut himself views this case as a normal criminal case (reckless driving and causing death), albeit one that no one wanted to happen. However, he ordered the setting up of the Vicha-led committee to look into this case because he didn’t want people, particularly foreigners, to think it was all about politics.
Speaking respectfully, Mr Sukit said: “Investigation procedures must be carried out in compliance with international guidelines and with no ‘bias’.”
He argued that the issues that need to be considered are: whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute as society is demanding; whether the authorities that include investigators, public prosecutors, politicians and lawyers have given help to the accused to avoid punishment; whether the head of the investigation committee’s recommendations are applicable under laws and regulations; and whether his opinion is against the verdict of Supreme Court.
The Vicha-led committee’s recommendations have caused the high-ranking officials accused of interfering with the law in relation to the case to face disciplinary probes by the RTP and the OAG. They are also being punished for a crime they didn’t commit.
Source : https://www.khaosod.co.th/monitor-news/news_7313003
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