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Red Bull heir wanted after failure to appear in court

Red Bull next-gen Vorayuth Yoovidhya, whose family also co-owns the sole authorised Ferrari importer in Thailand, is wanted by police after he failed to appear in court for a hit-and-run incident involving his sports car, which killed an on-duty policeman.
Vorayuth Yoovidhya last September when he was under investigation for the hit-and-run
AP/Press Association Images

Red Bull next-gen Vorayuth Yoovidhya, whose family also co-owns the sole authorised Ferrari importer in Thailand, is wanted by police after he failed to appear in court for a hit-and-run incident involving his sports car, which killed an on-duty policeman.

A defence lawyer for the 28-year-old said he was on a business trip to Singapore and was unable to return to Thailand for Monday's indictment because he fell ill.

A statute of limitations that expired today means the speeding charge will be dropped, but he still faces charges of causing death by reckless driving and not stopping to help, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.

It is the sixth time the indictment has been postponed.

Yoovidhya is accused of hitting Wichean Glanprasert at high speed in September last year and dragging his body down a Bangkok street before fleeing the scene. Police traced oil streaks to his family’s estate in a nearby wealthy neighbourhood where they found his damaged Ferrari.

Prosecutor Ruecha Krairiksh said Yoovidhya's absence at Monday's court date showed an intention to flee and they would oppose his bail during his trial for the remaining charges.

The case has created uproar in Thailand where it has been described as a test of the widespread perception that wealth can buy immunity from the law.

Following the crash a policeman arrested a bogus suspect in an effort to protect the heir, and the family paid the officer’s siblings a three million baht (€75,000) fee in a bid to avoid a civil lawsuit.

Yoovidhya is the grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, who formulated energy drink Krathing Daeng. In 1987 he went into business with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz, who helped transform the drink into a global brand, under the new Red Bull name.

Chaleo held a 49% stake in the brand, which he left to the next-generation when he died in March last year. Mateschitz also owns 49% and Chaelo’s son, Chalerm, held the remaining 2% stake.

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