SUNDAY, April 21, 2024
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Somyot, ex-deputy attorney-general, 6 others face charges over Red Bull heir case

Somyot, ex-deputy attorney-general, 6 others face charges over Red Bull heir case

The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) announced on Tuesday that it will arraign eight suspects for allegedly helping Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya get away scot-free after a hit-and-run accident in 2012.

The suspects include a former president of the Football Association of Thailand and a former deputy attorney general.

Prayut Phetkhun, the OAG spokesperson, told the press that the OAG will press charges against eight suspects in the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.

The eight suspects include former and active police officers, former and incumbent public prosecutors, a politician and a university lecturer. They are accused of abusing their authority to alter evidence to tone down the case and help Vorayuth escape arraignment in court for drunk driving and speeding away after running over Pol Senior Sgt-Major Wichian Klunpraset from Thonglor Police Station in 2012.

The suspects are:

• Pol General Somyot Poompunmuang, a former National Police chief and 17th president of the FA Thailand

• Pol Maj-General Thawatchai Mekprasertkul, former commander of the then-Police Forensic Science Division

• Pol Colonel Veeradol Taptim, former Thonglor police officer

• Netr Naksuk, former deputy attorney general

• Chainarong Saengthong-aram, public prosecutor

• Thanit Buakhiew

• Chuchai Lertpongadisorn

• Assoc Prof Dr Saiprasit Kerdniyom

Somyot, ex-deputy attorney-general, 6 others face charges over Red Bull heir case

As soon as the public prosecutors dropped charges, Vorayuth fled overseas and has not returned since. This case has been cited by most critics as proof of Thailand’s culture of impunity for the rich.

These eight are part of a wider list of 19 people investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for allegedly helping Vorayuth escape.

The NACC submitted its list of suspects to the OAG on September 5 last year, but the OAG took several months to review the report.

As for the eight suspects, Prayut said Somyot allegedly used his connections when he was chair of the House committee on legal, justice and police affairs to help Vorayuth.

The OAG spokesman said Thawatchai also allegedly abused his authority as the forensic science division chief to alter evidence and make the case against Vorayuth weaker.

Both Somyot and Thawatchai are accused of abusing their authority to help someone escape or get a lenient punishment. They also face charges of malfeasance and nonfeasance in violation of the Criminal Code’s Articles 83, 86, 157 and 200 as well as Articles 123/1, 65 and 172 of the NACC Acts of 1999, 2011 and 2020, respectively.

Veeradol, meanwhile, is being charged with violating the Criminal Code’s Articles 83, 157 and 200 and Articles 123/1, 65 and 172 of the NACC Acts of 1999, 2011 and 2020, respectively. Prayuth said the accused was working as an investigator at the Thonglor Police Station at the time.

Veeradol is also accused of being dishonest in his job as a police investigator to help Vorayuth.

Netr, meanwhile, is accused of dereliction of duty to help Vorayuth escape and of violating the Criminal Code’s Articles 157 and 200 and Article 172 of the 2018 NAAC Act.

The remaining four suspects, civilians Chainarong, Thanit, Chuchai and Saiprasit, were accused of helping the authorities alter evidence to make the case against Vorayuth weaker.

They were accused of breaching Articles 86, 157 and 200 of the Criminal Code and Articles 65 and 172 of the NACC Acts of 2011 and 2018 respectively.

Prayuth said two of the 15 initial suspects – Pol Lt-General Manoo Mekamork and Pol Colonel Wirat Sitthisoradej will be used as state witnesses in line with the NACC’s decision.

Five have been cleared by the NACC. They are Thani Onla-iad, Pol Lt-Colonel Songwut Charoenwichayadej, Worapol Sokatiyanurak, Usa Chusin, and Natnicha Thongchuen.

Three suspects will face a separate charge of violating the Criminal Procedural Act and will be sued under Article 63 of the 2018 NACC Act. They were identified as Pol Lt-Colonel Pannapol Nammuang, Air Marshall Chakkrit Thanomkulbutr and Air Marshall Surachet Thongsaluay.

The NACC has recommended that the last suspect, Pol Lt-General Permpoon Chidchob, be fired from his job.

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