Prime Minister Prayuth Chan o Cha has instructed the authorities to seize the body of a witness in a hit-and-run case involving Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya.
This, according to the Bangkok Post, was to dispel public doubt over the circumstances surrounding his death.
Traisuree Taisaranakul, the government’s deputy spokesman, said Jaruchart Maadthong’s body was confiscated to allow forensic officials to conduct an autopsy following a public outcry over the timing of his death.
Reports said Jaruchart was killed in a crash between two motorcycles in Juay Kaew Road in Chiang Mai last Thursday.
The other motorcyclist involved in the crash, Somchai Tawino, was injured.
Jaruchart was one of two new witnesses brought into the Vorayuth case two years ago, alongside retired air marshal Jakkrit Thanomkulabutr.
They testified that Vorayuth was not driving at high speed and that they saw the motorcycle ridden by Police Senior Sergeant Major Wichian Klanprasert had cut in front of Vorayuth’s Ferrari on Sept 3, 2012.
Their testimony led to the closure of the high-profile case involving Vorayuth after prosecutors in June dropped the charge of fatal reckless driving against him.
Somchai told police after Thursday’s accident that he did not know Jaruchart.
However, he later said they first met while drinking at separate tables at a restaurant the night of the crash, and they were on their way to find another drinking spot when the accident happened.
Jaruchart lost control of his motorcycle and fell, hitting his head on the road.
Jaruchart’s motorcycle hit the rear of the Somchai’s motorcycle, police said after watching closed-circuit television camera footage of the accident.
Jaruchart’s body was due for cremation at his house in Phan district in Chiang Rai on Sunday, but his parents agreed to release his body for an autopsy after conducting the final religious rites.
The autopsy will be conducted at Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital of Chiang Mai University.
“Police are investigating two aspects of the case. One involves an accident and the other is associated with an autopsy.
“Investigators are waiting for the results of the autopsy and forensic evidence gathered at the scene,” said police deputy spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen.
Vicha Mahakhun, who was appointed by Prayuth to chair an independent committee to examine the Vorayuth case, said he would ask the prime minister to provide protection for other witnesses in the case.
He said Jaruchart’s death was unnatural and an autopsy was required to allay public suspicion.
The committee, he said, should complete its work within 30 days, but the time frame might not be enough if the committee had to come up with recommendations to improve the efficiency of the justice system.
He said the committee would update the prime minister on its progress every 10 days.
The Post said Police General Satawat Hirunburana, chairman of a police panel on the Vorayuth case, had sent officers to ask medical experts about the chemical substances found Vorayuth’s blood. – NST