BANGKOK—In what legal scholars and social analysts are declaring a “landmark ruling,” the Criminal Court today handed down an unprecedented combined sentence for three wealthy young Thais who committed vehicular manslaughter in recent high-profile cases.
Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the grandson of Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhya and who killed a policeman with his Ferrari, Orachorn “Praewa” Thephasadin Na Ayudhya, a member of a royally-titled family who caused an expressway accident that killed nine people, and Kanpithak Patchimsawat, son of former Miss Thailand Sawinee Patchimsawat who deliberately drove his Mercedes into a crowd of people, were sentenced to a death match demolition derby from which only the winner would survive.
“We hope that this sentence will bring some semblance of justice to the victims of these three high-society criminals,” read the judge in his ruling. “We also hope that the public will find it highly entertaining.”
The derby will take place in National Stadium next month, which will be modified into an open, dirt-track arena compete with lethal obstacles including twelve buried landmines, horizontal steel spikes protruding from the walls at driver-head level, and a 4-meter deep pool of boiling water.
Additionally, mortar shells and balloons filled with concentrated hydrofluoric acid will be lobbed at random into the arena by family members of the deceased victims.
The three convicts, each driving an exact version of the vehicle used to commit their respective crimes, will be released from opposite ends of the arena. Once inside, they will be free to use whatever means available to disable and kill their opponents.
The winner will be given a suspended sentence, the traditional prize for any Thai person of high social standing or wealth who is facing a serious criminal charge where the victims are of lower standing.
Tickets to the event, which is being co-sponsored by BEC-TERO, have already sold out. However, the derby will be broadcast live on free-to-air TV stations. Although police have warned against illegal gambling on the event, rumors have surfaced that bookies are reporting huge wagering interest on the level of a World Cup final.
Reported odds place Kanpithak as an early 4-3 favorite, due to the perceived sturdiness of the Mercedes E240 he will be driving. However, “Praewa” has also emerged as an even-money darling among female punters, who are counting on the swift agility of her Honda Jazz to prove a tactical advantage in the death pit. Vorayuth is the long shot at 8-1 as his Ferrari’s ground clearance of just 14 cm is expected to be a handicap on the dirt surface.
Although the Yingluck government officially declined to comment on the verdict, deferring to the court’s jurisdiction in criminal matters, deputy PM Chalerm Yoobumruang told reporters that this was a step forward for the country and that the Thai people should celebrate the verdict as an improvement in democracy.
“This bloody, vengeful spectacle of three rich kids killing each other will show the world that Thailand is a democracy, and that powerful connections and money won’t save you from justice here,” he said.
“Unless,” he quickly added, “you shoot a cop in the face at a nightclub. That’s totally different.”