The Thai military junta and Thailand’s equivalent to the ‘landed gentry’ believe they can control the net and suppress investigations against their operations.
To a certain amount they can. The latest decision today is good news, but not the end of the war by any means.
Thailand’s judiciary is officially independent of the state, but a lot of people do not believe that as a result of odd rulings over the years. Hall’s last case was absurd. He was being sued over an interview with al jazeera television. His conviction would have been absurd.
The following is the statement from Finnwatch, for whom Andy Hall was working when they produced a damning report about conditions of Burmese workers at Natural Fruit’s pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Kan.
Below is the statement today from Finnwatch:
An Appeal Court has today dismissed the Attorney General and Natural Fruit’s appeal on one of the cases filed by the pineapple company against Finnwatch researcher Andy Hall. The case concerned an interview Andy Hall gave to Aljazeera in Myanmar.
The Appeal Court decision was read at the Prakanong Court – the very Court that dismissed the alleged criminal defamation case in the first place on 29 October 2014 due to a flawed interrogation process.
The Attorney General and Natural Fruit cannot appeal further to the Supreme Court.
– We are relieved and glad about today’s Court decision and that the legality of the previous dismissal has been upheld. Case is now closed, said Sonja Vartiala, Finnwatch’s Executive Director.
The case heard today is just one of four cases filed by Natural Fruit against Andy Hall. Hearings on the other criminal case will continue on 19th October when Andy Hall will be formally indicted for criminal defamation and a computer crime on a case that relates to the publication of a Finnwatch report that exposed labour rights violations at the Natural Fruit pineapple processing plant.
This second criminal case is the most serious of all four, and carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.
In addition to two criminal cases, National Fruit has also filed two damages claims against Andy Hall.
Finnwatch and hundreds of other civil society organisations have appealed for the criminal proceedings against Andy Hall to be dropped, and for the Thai authorities to bring Natural Fruit to justice for the alleged labour rights violations at their pineapple processing plant.