Opinion: Outrage over Thai Red Bull heir case is prematureBy Bangkok Pundit Sep 04, 2013 10:00AM UTC
The Bangkok Post headline yesterday seems to have whipped up the outrage.* The headline reads “Red Bull heir off the hook on speeding charge”. Key excerpt:
Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya, whose Ferrari hit and killed a police officer on a motorcycle last year, has escaped speeding charges after he failed to meet with prosecutors on Monday – but police will now issue a warrant for his arrest on two more serious charges, and ask the court to deny him bail.
Mr Vorayuth’s no-show means he will be acquitted from the speeding charge, one of three brought against him in the high-profile hit-and-run case, because the statute of limitations on the charge expires on Sept 3.
The other two charges relate to reckless driving causing death and failing to stop his vehicle to help his victim, which carry a 10-year statute of limitations.
BP: Cue the outrage in the comments and on Twitter and Facebook. As BP noted on Twitter yesterday afternoon, the only punishment** for speeding, as per Sections 67 and 151 of the Land Traffic Act 1979, is a maximum 1,000 Baht fine. Yes, Vorayuth has missed being fined up to 1,000 Baht, but it won’t help for the other charges. The Bangkok Post:
The prosecutors would still include the speeding allegation as supporting evidence for why Mr Vorayudh was charged with reckless driving when indicting him, Mr Ruecha said.
The penalty for speeding would only be a fine, he said.
Once the arrest warrant is out, the police would then be able to arrange to have the suspect extradited to Thailand, Mr Ruecha said.
BP: Yes, justice moves slowly for people with influence – it took 4 years for some yellow leaders to be indicted over the airport seizure – but why express outrage that he missed out on a 1,000 Baht fine at a time when he faces arrest for serious offences which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years. ***
This is not to say that the authorities have covered themselves in glory, but BP has seen this before with the Praewa case where we had this outpouring of rage at the beginning and then when she actually got a suspended sentence well it seemed like people had expressed their outrage previously and had moved on. BP would suggest saving your outrage to a later date as it may be needed…
If was to hazard a guess, BP sees no way he can escape a trial. His only hope is during the trial then (like with Chalerm’s son) or on appeal. If he doesn’t come home soon, he *should* have a hard time making bail, but courts usually grant bail to influential people no matter the crime. This is not a political case where other countries will not extradite. BP doesn’t doubt he will fight going to jail, but escaping the speeding charge is not a get-out-of-jail free card like it is being made out to be…
* By contrast. Reuters: “Thai prosecutors to issue arrest warrant for Red Bull heir”
** Although, AIT site notes that you can also accrue demerit points which means you can lose your license.
*** BP is unsure whether he can actually be indicted without appearing in person, but police have already sought a warrant for his arrest