Thailand: Andy Hall’s fourth case set to begin next week
Proceedings for the fourth case of migrant worker rights campaigner Andy Hall are due to begin on Monday (March 23), while the preliminary hearings for the second case are ongoing.
Four cases have been filed against Hall by Thai pineapple processor Natural Fruit Company, relating to allegations made in a report he co-authored that was published by human rights group Finnwatch, and an interview with Aljazeera correspondent Wayne Hayes.
The report, titled “Cheap has a high price”, alleged serious human rights abuses on the part of the Thai company, including accusations that it employed underage labor and confiscated the passports of migrant workers from Myanmar.
The Prakanong Court in Bangkok dismissed the first case against Hall – which has since been appealed by Natural Fruit Company – and preliminary hearings are underway for the second case which relates to the Computer Crimes Act and criminal defamation charges.
Hall told http://www.freshfruitportal.com the preliminary hearings for the second case had continued on Monday (March 16), which involved the final cross-examination of the Thai company’s vice president.
“He’s the first witness that was brought by the prosecution in the preliminary hearing to put the case to the court as to why I should be indicted for the computer crimes and criminal defamation case,” Hall said.
“So he spent a lot of time talking about how I was to blame for all this, and things about how I was involved in putting stuff in computers, distributing it, defaming the company and doing so in a malicious way.
“They don’t seem to have a clear understanding of the difference between Finnwatch and myself.”
The second case’s next preliminary hearing is set to continue on April 20, which will involve testimonies from Natural Fruit Company’s president and other staff members.
After that the court will decide whether or not to indict Hall. If indicted, he would be brought into custody and could then apply for bail.
He believed the second case would probably end up going to full trial, but was optimistic about the final outcome.
“Generally the courts accept most of these cases for indictment because they often see it as some kind of issue that needs to be judged,” he said.
“It will be very tiring and exhausting, but I’m sure at the end we will be successful as we were in the first case.”
The fourth case set to begin next week is a 100 million baht (US$3 million) case relating to civil defamation charges in relation to his Aljazeera interview.
The third case involving civil defamation charges has been postponed pending the verdict of the second case as it contains the same substantive issues.
Hall also mentioned that over the last couple of weeks the Thai Ministry of Justice has been ‘very active’ in its witness protection, in part after concerns were raised by the British Ambassador.
The human rights activist alleged there had been threats made to one of the key witnesses in the case but the government had previously done very little to protect them.