Thailand’s Supreme Court will rule this week on decisions to acquit migrant workers activist Andy Hall of defaming the Natural Fruit Company.
Andy Hall was acquitted at the Bangkok Criminal Court and at the Appeal Court. It seems that he should be acquitted again, but nothing is written in stone in Thailand, and there clearly have political and face saving moveS have been taken against him – and his causes.
‘Clucking in Clucking Out’.
Thai police actively pursued the defamation case against him which in most civilised countries is not a criminal offence. They also pursued theft charges in the case of Burmese workers who complained about conditions in a chicken plucking factory. The workers were accused of stealing their clocking in and clocking out ‘Time Cards which they had taken to show the Labour Department.
Here is the statement from FINNWATCH
Thailand’s Supreme Court to Rule on Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall Criminal Defamation Case Appeal on November 3rd 2016
A ruling by Thailand’s Supreme Court on the legality of the two times dismissal of criminal defamation charges filed by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. and Thailand’s Attorney General against Finnwatch researcher and British migrant worker activist Andy Hall will be read on Thursday Nov. 3rd 9am at Prakanong Court in Bangkok, Thailand. Hall is required to attend the hearing in person.
The criminal case prosecution, dating back to July 2013, relates to an interview Hall gave to Al-Jazeera English in Myanmar in April 2013 concerning his earlier criminal prosecution by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. This case was the first of four criminal and civil cases filed against Hall by the Prachuap Khiri Khan pineapple processing company to reach trial following publication of a Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price in January 2013. Hall coordinated field research and conducted migrant worker interviews for this report which outlined migrant worker allegations of serious labour rights violations at the company’s processing plant.
This particular case has already been dismissed twice by courts of both first and second instance (Prakanong/Appeals Court) on the grounds of flawed unlawful interrogation processes during police investigation of the case and given the allegedly defamatory act was committed in Myanmar.
The hearing has two likely verdict outcomes. Firstly, the Supreme Court could reject the appeal again on legal grounds. If the court did so, the joint plaintiffs could no longer appeal and after almost four years, this case would finally be closed. Secondly, the Supreme Court could accept the appeal and order the Prakanong Court of first instance to rule on the facts of the case as per witness testimony during the original 6 day trial in September 2014. The criminal defamation charges in this case carry a maximum penalty of 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 20, 000 Thai Baht.
Less than two months ago on September 20th 2016, the Bangkok South Criminal Court found Andy Hall guilty in the other criminal case on charges of criminal defamation by publication and Computer Crimes brought by Natural Fruit Co Ltd against him. He was subsequently sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, reduced by one year and suspended by two years and ordered to pay a fine of 200, 000 baht reduced to 150,000 baht. Once the fine was paid to the Court by Thai Union Group, the Thai Tuna Industry Association and Finnwatch, Andy Hall was released from temporary detention, his passport returned and restrictions on his freedom of movement removed.
Andy Hall and his legal team are currently preparing to appeal the Bangkok South Criminal Court ruling on grounds of both fact and law but have yet to be provided a written copy of the verdict to be used as the basis of the appeal.