Thai police seek new Interpol notice for Red Bull heir

FILE - In this April 5, 2017, file photo, Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya, whose grandfather co-founded the energy drink company Red Bull, walks to his car as he leaves a house in London. Thai judicial authorities said Wednesday that police will seek the arrest of Vorayuth on three charges, one more than had been announced a day earlier. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

BANGKOK — Police in Thailand on Wednesday began the process of informing the international police cooperation agency Interpol about a new arrest warrant for an heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune who was involved in a 2012 traffic accident that killed a motorcycle policeman.

Police Lt. Col. Thanawuth Sanguansuk said his precinct has forwarded a request to the Thai police agency that is the liaison with France-based Interpol to issue a “Red Notice” for Vorayuth Yoovidhya.

A Red Notice is a request to police forces around the world “to locate and provisionally arrest an individual, pending extradition.”

It isn’t clear if or when the Thai police liaison office in Bangkok will forward the request to Interpol headquarters.

Vorayuth’s Ferrari ran into the policeman’s motorcycle on a main Bangkok street in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, 2012, killing the officer. He avoided court appearances for several years, then fled into exile.

The Yoovidhya family owns about half of the Red Bull empire, and is listed by Forbes magazine as the second richest in Thailand with an estimated wealth of $20.2 billion.

Thai judicial authorities said earlier Wednesday that police will seek Vorayuth’s arrest on three charges, one more than they announced a day earlier.

A spokesman for the Office of the Judiciary, Suriyan Hongvilai, said the arrest warrant for Vorayuth includes a charge for hit and run driving, as well as for reckless driving causing death and abuse of an illegal drug.

He said his office had neglected to announce the hit and run charge Tuesday because it had not been included in the electronic record of the warrant sent by police.

A public uproar ensued last month when Thai police announced that state prosecutors had dropped the reckless driving causing death charge, which had been the last one still standing. A previous Red Notice for Vorayuth was then canceled. The statute of limitations had already expired on several other charges.

According to a document leaked to Thai media, the prosecutor’s office decided to drop the last charge because new witnesses and evidence indicated that Vorayuth was not at fault.

The case suggested to many Thais that the suspect enjoyed impunity because of his family’s wealth and connections.

In a response to the public outcry, several official inquiries were launched that cast doubt on the actions of various police officers and how the new evidence had been evaluated. They resulted in the case being reopened.

The whereabouts of Vorayuth, better known by his nickname “Boss,” are currently unknown. It isn’t clear whether he took advantage of the five-week gap between the dropping of the charge and the public uproar to return home, though international travel to Thailand has been severely curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.