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04 March 2024

Thai police seek first arrest warrant for Red Bull heir

Photo: Reuters


Thai police on Friday asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for the heir to the Red Bull empire over a deadly 2012 hit-and-run, a belated move to end the impunity enjoyed by the super-rich scion.

The Thai public is closely watching whether the court will issue the warrant - the first against Worayuth Yoovidhya, who has spent years ducking hearings on charges linked to the death of a policeman who was mowed down by his Ferrari on a Bangkok street.

The scion - nicknamed "Boss" -  was 27 at the time of the crash and has freely dipped in and out of Thailand over the past five years but never been arrested.

Several of the charges against him have expired during that time.

But the most serious offence - a possible 10-year sentence for reckless driving that resulted in death - is valid until 2027.

For many in Thailand, the case has become a byword for the special treatment enjoyed by elites in a justice system notoriously bent by cash and influence.

"(The arrest warrant) is being deliberated on in the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court," Colonel Kachornpong Jiitparkpoom, the superintendent of Thonglor police station, told AFP Friday.

Prosecutors called on police to request the warrant after Worayuth missed yet another deadline to appear on Thursday - a move that critics say was long overdue.

The Attorney-General's office said it would also explore applying for the extradition of Worayuth, who has been seen in recent weeks in London.  

Worayuth's lawyer has previously said his client was unable to come to Bangkok because of business in the UK.  

Worayuth's grandfather Chaleo Yoovidhya co-founded the Red Bull brand with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz in the 1980s.

Chaleo died in March 2012 aged 89, leaving his eleven surviving relatives with a collective wealth of $22 billion, according to Bloomberg.