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High-speed Mercedes crash ignites uproar in Thailand

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High-speed Mercedes crash ignites uproar in Thailand
JOCELYN GECKER, Associated Press



BANGKOK (AP) — The dash cam video is jaw-dropping: On a virtually empty stretch of highway, a midsize car is seen traveling in the slow lane. Suddenly, a black Mercedes-Benz zooms into the frame and rear-ends the car at tremendous speed. Within a split second, a cloud of smoke and debris fill the video screen.

What happened next is now well known in Thailand and the focal point of growing outrage. The midsize car burst into flames and the couple inside, both graduate students in their 30s, died at the scene of the accident. The Mercedes driver, the son of a wealthy Thai businessman, survived with minor injuries and refused both alcohol and drug tests — and his wishes were respected. Police say he was driving at an estimated 240 kilometers (150 miles) per hour.

Since the video was widely shared on social media last week, the fatal March 15 crash has reignited a debate about the impunity of the rich and well-connected in Thailand. A similar debate raged in the U.S. with the case of the Texas teenager who used an "affluenza" defense in a deadly drunken-driving wreck.

The Mercedes driver, Janepob Verraporn, 37, now tops a list of "Bangkok's deadly rich kids," as one Thai newspaper calls the children of privilege who have killed with their fancy cars. TV talk shows, social media forums and editorials have chimed in on a debate that asks whether justice will be served this time or — if history is any guide — if Janepob will walk away from the crime without serving time.

Police have rushed to defend themselves against criticism for initially mishandling the case and acting to shield Janepob, whose father owns a luxury car import company.

"The law is the law — whether you are rich or poor you have to pay for what you've done," national police spokesman Songpol Wattanachai said Monday, asking skeptics to have faith in the police. "Justice will be served. Just because he is rich doesn't mean he won't go to jail. I'm asking people not to think that way."

Police who initially handled the case in Ayutthaya province, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Bangkok, were quickly sidelined after failing to test Janepob for alcohol and drug use — and then defending the blunder. Speaking on TV, a police commander said the suspect had the right to refuse breath and blood tests, adding that both police and rescue workers did not smell any alcohol on Janepob's breath.

Amid public uproar, police filed a charge last week against Janepob for driving while unfit or intoxicated, which carries a prison sentence of three to 10 years, said Ayutthaya's deputy police chief, Col. Surin Thappanbupha. Under Thai law, he said, a refusal to be tested is tantamount to driving under the influence.

Janepob faces another charge of reckless driving causing death and property damage, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. Janepob was spared provisional detention after posting 200,000 baht ($5,700) bail and is currently at one of Bangkok's private hospitals.

The Nation newspaper said in an editorial on Sunday that the case had hit a nerve in Thailand because of "the sense that there is one set of rules for the rich and influential and another for everyone else."

"Stop me if you've heard this one before," the editorial begins. "An expensive car crashes. One or more people die. A person with a recognizable name ... emerges from the wreckage and flees the scene. No breath test is administered. Compensation is offered and the family tries to wriggle their way out of any legal consequences. The police fail dismally at their job."

One of Thailand's most famous untouchables is an heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune. In 2012, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, a grandson of Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, slammed his Ferrari into a policeman and dragged the officer's dead body along a Bangkok street before driving away. Vorayuth, who was then 27, has yet to be charged. In that case, police initially attempted to cover up his involvement by arresting a bogus suspect.

In 2010, Orachorn Devahastin Na Ayudhya was 16 and driving without a license when she crashed her sedan into a van on a Bangkok highway, killing nine people. Orachon, the daughter of a former military officer, was given a two-year suspended sentence.

In a country that values deference and patronage, and where police are infamously corrupt, there have been many other similar cases. But Janepob's carried the added shock value of visuals. The video of the crash was taken by a nearby car's dashboard camera, and quickly went viral. A few days later, another video was uploaded and widely shared showing Janepob's Mercedes smashing through an Easy Pass toll gate about an hour before the crash.

Bangkok resident Nant Thananan, 35, was among many who expressed their exasperation on Facebook.

"It's so frustrating because there's nothing we can do. We know this case will go away. We've seen it before," said Nant, who owns a popular Bangkok food truck. "We keep asking ourselves, when are the police going to be ashamed enough to do the right thing?"
___

Associated Press writer Ying Panyapon contributed to this report.

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-- (c) Associated Press 2016-03-24

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"The law is the law — whether you are rich or poor you have to pay for what you've done," national police spokesman Songpol Wattanachai said Monday, asking skeptics to have faith in the police. "Justice will be served. Just because he is rich doesn't mean he won't go to jail. I'm asking people not to think that way."

rolleyes.gif whistling.gif Righto then...............

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"We keep asking ourselves, when are the police going to be ashamed enough to do the right thing?"

Sadly, probably never.

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A video clip with commentary on the outcome of Thai justice should be screened on all Thailand bound flights.

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It won't change because the people with the power and influence have worked hard to create and maintain this two tier system.

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Time for the police to grow up. coffee1.gif

If, by "grow up," you mean 'be completely restructured,' I wholeheartedly agree. beatdeadhorse.gif

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"The law is the law — whether you are rich or poor you have to pay for what you've done," national police spokesman Songpol Wattanachai said Monday, asking skeptics to have faith in the police. "Justice will be served. Just because he is rich doesn't mean he won't go to jail. I'm asking people not to think that way."

police spokesman Songpol Wattanachai I think he can get himself ready for a transfer.

I would like to see this video go viral world wide, to show tourist what they can expect in Thailand.

RiP to the two that lost their lives because of some HiSo clown that thinks he is above the law.

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Good to see this story getting int'l coverage now as well. Keep the bright white spotlight of shame shining brightly on both the driver and the RTP until justice is served.

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"The law is the law — whether you are rich or poor you have to pay for what you've done," national police spokesman Songpol Wattanachai said Monday

cheesy.gifcheesy.gifcheesy.gifcheesy.gifcheesy.gifcheesy.gifcheesy.gifcheesy.gifcheesy.gif

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"The law is the law — whether you are rich or poor you have to pay for what you've done," national police spokesman Songpol Wattanachai said Monday, asking skeptics to have faith in the police. "Justice will be served. Just because he is rich doesn't mean he won't go to jail. I'm asking people not to think that way."

You're concerned people might assume this s*%@ stain won't have to do any jail time simply because he's well-off and well-connected?

Gee, it's hard to fathom how anyone would get that impression. rolleyes.gif

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Better to blame Mercedes Benz for it and sue them.....

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"The law is the law — whether you are rich or poor you have to pay for what you've done," national police spokesman Songpol Wattanachai said Monday, asking skeptics to have faith in the police. "Justice will be served. Just because he is rich doesn't mean he won't go to jail. I'm asking people not to think that way."

You're concerned people might assume this s*%@ stain won't have to do any jail time simply because he's well-off and well-connected?

Gee, it's hard to fathom how anyone would get that impression. rolleyes.gif

It's a double negative - the spokesman's request has been granted; they don't think that way. Aside though of what is probably a translation error, I suspect people generally might side with canuckamuck adding 'invested heavily' to his 'worked hard'.

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Clown wants people to have faith in the police !!where is his straight jacket!! ???

Anyone who has faith in the police is mentally deranged.

It makes my blood boil when i read things like this, money talks everytime no such thing as the law.

Only thing police care about is how can we get more money.

When i had my accident police told my wife, your husband was drunk BULLS..T

I was on my way for a drink when accident happened.

Pickup driver who was to blame for the accident high ranking local government official, so farang is wrong.

If as they say i was drunk why no breath test? why no blood test? why was i not charged?

Why because it was police bulls..t.

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a comment from the father who's daughter was killed.

"the person that hurt thanthaphat should consider how he can provide assistance"

if that was me my assitance would be a 12bore double barrell.

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