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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Thai Red Bull heir: Third charge expires against fugitive

Worayuth Yoovidhya, better known as "Boss", is wanted for drunkenly ploughing his Ferrari into a policeman riding a motorbike in Bangkok in 2012, dragging the officer to his death

Policemen examine a damaged Ferrari at the home of the late Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhaya in Bangkok, Thailand on September 3, 2012. His grandson Worayuth Yoovidhya allegedly killed a policeman while driving the car drunk, leaving a trail of debris all the way to the family home. Reuters
Policemen examine a damaged Ferrari at the home of the late Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhaya in Bangkok, Thailand on September 3, 2012. His grandson Worayuth Yoovidhya allegedly killed a policeman while driving the car drunk, leaving a trail of debris all the way to the family home. Reuters

A third criminal charge against the fugitive heir to Thailand's Red Bull fortune over a fatal hit-and-run expired on Sunday but prosecutors said it would not affect their heavily-criticised attempts to bring him to justice.

Worayuth Yoovidhya, better known as "Boss", is wanted for drunkenly ploughing his Ferrari into a policeman riding a motorbike in Bangkok in 2012, dragging the officer to his death.

After years of giving prosecutors the run around, the 32-year-old billionaire has become an emblem for the impunity enjoyed by the rich and connected in Thailand.

Earlier this year, he fled the kingdom after an arrest warrant was finally issued following a series of no-shows at police interviews.

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Mr Worayuth initially faced four charges: speeding, drunk-driving, fleeing the scene of an accident and causing death by dangerous driving.

The statute of limitation on fleeing the scene of an accident, which carried up to six months in jail, expired on Sunday. Speeding and drunk driving-have already run out.

He can now only be prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving which does not expire until 2027 and carries up to 10 years in jail.

"It (the third charge expiring) will not affect any request for extradition," Lieutenant General Somnuk Siengkong told reporters on Saturday.

Interpol has issued a "Red Notice" international arrest notice for Mr Worayuth, whose whereabouts is still unknown.

His private jet was seen in Singapore shortly after he fled and his family are known to own properties in London.

In the years since the fatal hit-and-run, the heir has continued to lead a lavish, jet-setting lifestyle with frequent stops in Thailand as well as attending key Red Bull racing events.

Red Bull has repeatedly declined to comment, saying the matter is private. His family has also remained silent.

Mr Worayuth's billionaire clan has inherited the fortune built up by his grandfather Chaleo Yoovidhya, who cofounded the Red Bull brand with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz in the 1980s.

Chaleo passed away in March 2012, leaving his family some US$22 billion (Dh80.8bn) and control of more than 50 per cent of the energy drink empire, according to Bloomberg.