BANGKOK (AP) — An heir to the Red Bull fortune failed to show up Thursday to face charges over an alleged hit-and-run that killed a Thai police officer almost five years ago, as prosecutors declared they would now seek a warrant for his arrest.
Prayuth Petchkhun, a deputy spokesman for the attorney general's office, told The Associated Press that Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya failed to meet a 4 p.m. deadline. His office had said that if Vorayuth failed to appear, it would send his case to the police on Friday so they can ask the court for an arrest warrant.
"If it turns out that he is in Thailand, Thai police can find him and arrest him. But if he is abroad we will then begin the extradition process," Prayuth said.
Vorayuth has been a no-show for meetings with prosecutors on several occasions, complaining through his attorney of unfair treatment or citing duties abroad. A recent Associated Press report revealed that he's been living lavishly, traveling to Formula One races, snowboarding in Japan and cruising in Venice.
The case is one of several involving the offspring of Thailand's elite that have attracted public scorn as examples of judicial impunity in which the well-connected are able to avoid or delay justice in way that ordinary Thais wouldn't be able to.
On Thursday, prosecutors rejected Vorayuth's latest request for a delay and said he must show up by 4 p.m.
"The suspect must meet prosecutors as scheduled. If he does not, it would mean he has the intention of delaying and evading the case and we will proceed with requesting an arrest warrant from the court," Somnuek Siangkong, another spokesman for the attorney general's office, said at a news conference ahead of the deadline.
Vorayuth is accused of fleeing the scene of a 2012 crash in his Ferrari after allegedly hitting a police officer on motorcycle patrol.
Vorayuth has failed to show up when ordered to face criminal charges of speeding, hit-and-run, and deadly, reckless driving. Police say Vorayuth disputes the reckless driving charge, claiming the officer swerved in front of him. The speeding charge expired after a year. The more serious charge of hit-and-run, which police say carries a penalty of up to six months in jail, expires Sept. 3.
The reckless driving charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, expires in 10 years if left unchallenged.