The Office of the Attorney-General said it is continuing its search for Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, heir to the Red Bull empire, in the hope of pressing charges against him relating to his controversial hit-and-run case before the statute of limitations expires.
Ittiporn Kaewthip, spokesman for the OAG, told media at a press briefing on Friday that if Mr Vorayuth returns to Thailand before Sept 3 next year, the OAG can charge him with taking cocaine which carries a potential 13-year jail term and a fine of up to 260,000 baht.
The reckless driving charge over an incident in which a police officer was killed, however, does not expire until Sept 3 of 2027 and could result in a further 10 years in jail and 20,000-baht fine, added Mr Ittiporn.
The search for the Red Bull scion in order to have him stand trial has been moving at a snail’s pace since he fled Thailand eight years ago. However, the Thai court issued an arrest warrant on Aug 25 last year and Interpol issued a Red Notice on Oct 1.
The pursuit of Mr Vorayuth stems from an incident in which he rammed his car into a motorcycle being ridden by Pol Snr Sg Maj Wichian Klanprasert of Thong Lor police station in August of 2012.
The officer died as a result of the collision.
Mr Vorayuth postponed attending his court hearing more than five times before fleeing abroad in 2012.
While overseas, a speeding charge was dropped after its one-year statute of limitations expired in 2013. A second charge — failing to stop to help a crash victim — expired on Sept 3, 2017.
Two charges remain active. The first for drug use after cocaine was found in his system after a test, which has a statute of limitations that expires on Sept 3 next year.
The second charge — reckless driving causing death — remains valid until 2027, although the OAG initially dropped the charge before subsequently deciding to pursue it again.
In a related development, a panel has been set up to probe former deputy attorney-general Nate Naksuk who controversially dropped prosecution proceedings against Mr Vorayuth.
The panel is being led by Prasan Hatthakam, another deputy attorney-general.
An earlier panel, headed by former graft buster Vicha Mahakun, recommended that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha revive the case, as it found evidence of irregularities in the work of government officials, law enforcement agencies, public prosecutors and lawyers, as well as inconsistencies in witness testimony.
It recommended an ethics probe into the delay and intentional derailment of the justice process against the wealthy energy drink heir.
The new panel is being led by Prasan Hatthakam, another deputy attorney-general.