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Thai ex-deputy AG ‘careless’ in Red Bull heir’s hit-and-run case

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Thai ex-deputy AG ‘careless’ in Red Bull heir’s hit-and-run case

The Public Prosecutors Commission on May 18 unanimously voted to indict a former deputy attorney-general of being careless in making the decision to drop the criminal hit-and-run charge against Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhaya.

The commission, however, did not find Nate Naksuk of being corrupt or committing malfeasance in deciding to drop the charge of reckless driving causing death against Vorayuth in July 2020.

As a result, the commission decided to suspend the penalty for Nate’s “careless decision” by telling him to leave the public prosecutor’s service retroactively to the date he quit the service that year.

Nate’s decision to drop the charge against Vorayuth led to a public uproar, raising suspicions of public prosecutors trying to help a wealthy suspect escape punishment. Following the public uproar, Nate quit government service two months before he was due to retire at the end of October 2020.

The commission met at the Office of the Attorney-General on Chaeng Wattana Road. The meeting was chaired by Attorney-General Pachara Yuttithamdamrong in his capacity as the chairman of the commission.

The commission had been set up to conduct a serious disciplinary probe against Nate following the public furore. The committee submitted its findings to the attorney-general in the middle of April.

After the meeting, Pachara said 14 commissioners attended the meeting and one took leave of absence. Since six commissioners were on the disciplinary probe panel, they abstained during the vote.

Pachara said the eight remaining commissioners voted unanimously to endorse the findings that Nate had been careless in making the decision to drop the charge against Vorayuth by not comprehensively considering all facts and information in the case.

The commission found Nate of being careless in carrying out his responsibility, and thus causing severe damage to the image of public prosecutors.

Initially, the commission punished Nate by removing him as a public prosecutor but with pension, a level below the penalty of dismissal without pension.

However, the commission found that it was the first time that Nate had been disciplined and that he had not committed any wrongdoing during his 40 years of service. The commission found that Nate did more good than harm to the public prosecutors agency, so the penalty was reduced to just “being told to leave” government service and the resignation date was allowed to be effective from the date Nate quit.

Pachara said the decision of the commission marked the end of the disciplinary probe against Nate. If Nate disagreed with the decision, he can appeal to the Central Administrative Court.

Pachara added that the Office of the attorney-general would not pursue any criminal charge against Nate either.

Pachara said another former public prosecutor, Chainarong Saengthong-aram, is facing a disciplinary probe by another committee, headed by Prapwhichtpong Sukhon, director of the administration litigation department.

Chainarong has been accused of changing the speed of the car driven by Vorayuth in the investigative report, which had prompted Nate to decide to drop the charge against the Red Bull heir.

Vorayuth was accused of crashing his black Ferrari into a policeman riding a motorcycle in Bangkok and fleeing the scene, after dragging the officer’s body for several dozen metres in 2012.

He is now a fugitive although Thailand has sought help from Interpol for his extradition.

The dropping of the charge against Vorayuth raised questions about crime and punishment for the well-connected.

Vorayuth’s grandfather, Chaleo, was listed as the third richest person in Thailand at the time of his death in 2012, at the age of 88, with an estimated net worth of $5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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