- Vorayuth Yoovidhya was accused in a 2012 hit-and-run killing of a police officer
- Thailand has now dropped all criminal charges against the Red Bull heir
- Warrants for the arrest, including an Interpol red notice, will be withdrawn
- Victim's brother dismayed by decision, saying there is 'no justice for the poor'
- The case has stirred debate about impunity for the rich and well-connected
- Vorayuth missed 8 summonses to appear in court in connection with the case
Thailand's decision to drop criminal charges against the heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune has sparked backlash in the country.
Vorayuth 'Boss' Yoovidhya was accused in a 2012 hit-and-run killing of a police officer in a case that raised questions about crime and punishment for the wealthy and well-connected in Thailand.
Warrants for the arrest, including an Interpol red notice, of Yoovidhya, whose whereabouts are not known, will be withdrawn, police said. Porn-anant Klunprasert, brother of the dead police officer, has expressed dismay over the decision of prosecutors to drop charges.
'Many of my friends called to tell me that the state prosecutors have dropped the case,' he said.
'It hurts me a lot. It shows no justice for the poor. Thailand has a very wide gap between the rich and the poor in every aspect, and this case is a clear example.'
Vorayuth, grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, creator of the Krating Daeng, or Red Bull, energy drink, had faced charges of speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death, which had a statue of limitations until 2027.
Vorayuth's current whereabouts remains unknown after he fled Thailand at the end of April 2017. He was last pictured leaving a £6.5million home in Knightsbridge, West London the same month.
'In June, we received a final order from the attorney general to not prosecute Vorayuth on charges of reckless driving and causing death,' he said.
Police Lt. Col. Thanawuth Sanguansuk confirmed that all charges against Vorayuth Yoovidhya have been dropped. The statute of limitations had run out for several, but the charge of causing death by reckless driving would not have expired for 15 years after the date of the crash.
The case attracted widespread attention because of perceptions that it showed the rich and well-connected have impunity in Thailand's judicial system, which in recent years has also been criticized for alleged political bias, as have other state institutions.
Thanawuth said prosecutors who handled the case informed police last month of their decision to withdraw the last remaining charge.
'Yes, they had informed us of their opinion to drop all charges. They are citing the fact the family members (of the police officer) have been compensated' by Vorayuth's family, Thanawuth said.
Vorayuth was allegedly racing down Sukhumvit Road, one of Bangkok's main drags, in his Ferrari on September 3, 2012.
It's believed he was at the wheel of the car that struck policeman Wichien Klanprasert on motorbike patrol on a main road in central Bangkok and dragged him under its wheels for dozens of metres.
The car then sped off, leaving the officer to die at the scene. Police followed a trail of oil and brake fluid to the Yoovidhya's luxury family compound on a nearby side road.
Initially investigators said a chauffeur had been behind the wheel of the car, windshield now shattered, bumper dangling.
But after senior officers arrived, Vorayuth turned himself in, his cap pulled low, his father holding his arm.
Later that day, the Yoovidhyas put up $15,000 bail at the police station and went home.
The scion, whose billionaire father is Thailand's fourth-richest man, never showed up for a formal indictment, allowing some of the charges against him to expire.
He avoided the charges against him by claiming to be ill or working overseas whenever a hearing was scheduled.
In total he missed eight summonses to appear in court in connection with the case before authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, five years after the accident.
Yoovidhya fled Thailand at the end of April 2017, just before authorities issued the arrest warrant after he repeatedly failed to meet with prosecutors.
Since the crash, an AP investigation showed he was continuing to enjoy a luxury lifestyle, globe-trotting in private jets, snow-boarding in Japan, going clubbing in London and partying on the Formula 1 grand prix circuit including posing for photos with the Red Bull team's stable of drivers.
In April 2017, the international playboy was seen leaving a £6.5million home in Knightsbridge, West London, accompanied by two female companions before climbing into a vehicle with blacked-out windows.
Later that day he, his parents and a cousin hurriedly left the address with a train of baggage.
An international request for the arrest of Vorayuth was made on August 28, 2017. The Red Notice went out to all 190 Interpol member countries.
The handling of the case has led to bitter criticism of the police and prosecutors, and accusations that the wealthy, well-connected family has in effect been exempted from justice.
Previously, police spokesman Col. Krissana Pattanacharoen said his agency has done everything in its power to charge Vorayuth.
'I am not saying it is a case where the rich guy will get away with it.' Krissana said.
'I can't answer that question. But what I can answer is, if you look at the timeline here, what we did, by far there is nothing wrong with the inquiry officers who are carrying out the case.'
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.
Many Thais saw Vorayuth's treatment as lenient because of his family's wealth, stirring debate about impunity for the rich.
But Kissana dismissed any such suggestion on Friday.
'This is not a double standards,' he said, adding that the case could be reopened if there was new evidence.
'We are saddened by the loss of a fellow police officer,' he said.