Boss Red Bull: Foul Play Not Ruled Out in Witness’ Death

A coffin carrying Jaruchart Mardthong's body is wheeled to a forensic investigation on Aug. 3, 2020.
A coffin carrying Jaruchart Mardthong's body is wheeled to a forensic investigation on Aug. 3, 2020.

BANGKOK — Investigators have yet to rule out the possibility that a key witness in billionaire Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya’s hit-and-run case might have been murdered, police said Monday.

Although initial reports suggested that Jaruchart Mardthong died in a motorcycle accident on Thursday in Chiang Mai city, regional police commander Prachuap Wongsuk said medical examiners will conduct a new autopsy to establish the exact circumstances of his death.

“We want doctors to thoroughly examine the body in order to establish the circumstances of his death,” Lt. Gen. Prachuap said. “We want to make everything clear to the public.”

Prachuap said he does not know when the autopsy results would be announced to the public.

Contradicting experts’ belief that the Red Bull fortune heir was driving at a high speed, Jaruchart was one the the two key witnesses who testified that Vorayuth was driving under 80 kmph when his Ferrari crashed into a patrol motorcycle and killed Sgt. Maj. Wichian Klanprasert in Bangkok in 2012.

His testimony, along with another given by a retired air force general who was also driving behind Vorayuth at the time, are believed to have contributed to prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges against Vorayuth.

Jaruchart’s body arrived at a hospital in Chiang Mai on Sunday after PM Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered authorities to secure his body for further examination. The order was given just hours before Jaruchart was due to be cremated.

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said the Prime Minister wants to end public suspicion surrounding his death and stressed that the government is not trying to intervene in the investigation.

Investigators will also question Somchai Tawino, the driver of the other motorcycle who crashed with Jaruchart in Thursday’s night incident.

Somchai has changed his testimonies to the police and now said that he met with Jaruchart while drinking at separate tables in a restaurant on the night of the accident, Chiang Mai provincial police chief Pichet Chiranantasin said.

Police said Somchai invited Jaruchart to find another drinking spot, but while they were riding their motorcycles on Huay Kaew Road, Jaruchart lost control of his motorcycle and fell after he was trying to overtake Somchai. He was injured.

Charges have yet to be filed against Somchai as investigators are waiting for autopsy results, Maj. Gen. Pichet added.