State of Play: Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall

Below is a summary of the state of play in Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall  criminal and civil prosecutions.

Case 1 Attorney General/Natural Fruit vs Andy Hall: Aljazeera Yangon interview criminal defamation charge petitioned originally by Natural Fruit at Bangna police station and accepted for prosecution by Attorney General and Prakanong Public Prosecutor (max. 1 year imprisonment as sentence if convicted) – trial complete 2nd to 10th September 2014 Prakanong Court, 29th Oct 2014 court then dismissed case due to unlawful prosecution. Attorney General and Natural Fruit appealed decision already to Appeals Court reportedly in December 2014, decision on appeal expected late 2015 or early 2016, no further hearings expected prior to decision on appeal

Case 2 Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall: Finnwatch report Computer Crimes Act and criminal defamation charges petitioned at Bangkok South Criminal Court (max. 7 years imprisonment as sentence if convicted) – 5 main preliminary hearings already took place at Bangkok South Criminal Court on 17th Nov 2014, 2nd Feb 2015, 16th Mar 2015, 20th April 15 and 14th May 15. Accused was not in attendance at hearings but lawyers represented the accused at the hearings. Natural Fruit is able to produce its own witnesses to the court during preliminary stage hearings to try to convince the court to indict the defendant and hear the case in full. Defense lawyers have the opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses if they desire. So far in 5 preliminary hearings Natural Food has called factory management, owners, staff, migrant workers, academics and other concerned parties. Next 6th preliminary hearing of case scheduled for 20th July 15. Decision on whether to indict the defendant or not expected perhaps from Aug to Dec 15 following which if the court proceeds with the case, the accused would be formally indicted, charged and detained, can apply for bail and then case would eventually begin hearing perhaps in 2016.

Case 3 Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall: Finnwatch report 300 million baht civil defamation/damages claim case – negotiation between 2 parties failed on 30th Oct 2014, court postponed consideration of case until verdict of Case 2 given as case concerns substance similar

Case 4 Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall: Aljazeera Yangon interview 100 million baht civil defamation/damages claim case – summons reportedly not lawfully delivered to defendant, 21st Nov 2014 hearing took place and scheduled next hearing in case for Mar 23rd 2015. In May 2015 the hearing again took place and court/prosecution reportedly informed that the summons documents had not yet been successfully served on the accused in Myanmar. The court adjourned the next hearing on the case to 16th Nov 2015 to allow adequate time for the summons and documents to be formally served on the defendant.

No more new cases yet….

Summary Current State of Play in 4 Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall prosecutions

http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2015/03/19/thailand-andy-halls-fourth-case-set-to-begin-next-week/?country=others

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.  

Andy-Hall-photo-2-2-MWRN-panorama-sq

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.

Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall Computer Crimes Case Hearing to Continue on Mar 16th

February 3rd, 2015

The preliminary hearing of British human rights activist Andy Hall is set to continue in mid-March, after the one planned for yesterday (Feb. 2) was cut short due to a court scheduling conflict.

The charges in this second case of four brought against Hall by pineapple processor Natural Fruit Company relate to the Computer Crimes Act and criminal defamation charges.

The first defamation case which took place last year was dismissed in the Prakanong Court in Bangkok, however the fruit manufacturing company has since appealed the decision.

Hall told http://www.freshfruitportal.com the preliminary hearing that was initially scheduled for a full day on Monday only ended up taking place from 9am until 12pm, and largely involved the cross-examination of the Natural Fruit senior management representative.

The next preliminary hearing is due to take place on March 16.

The campaigner last week said this second case was ‘quite confusing‘, as it appeared he was being charged for actions taken by Finnish civic organization Finnwatch.

“The strange thing from what we’ve seen is that they’re charging me with the Computer Crimes Act…it seems they’re charging me in terms of the Finnwatch report and letters that Finnwatch published on the internet; I never published any of those letters on the internet,” Hall said.

The third case involving civil defamation charges has been postponed pending the verdict of this second case as it contains the same substantive issues.

http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2015/02/03/thailand-andy-halls-preliminary-hearing-to-continue-in-march/?country=others

SEE ALSO:
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/464528/activist-hall-back-in-court-in-2nd-fruit-firm-defamation-case

Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall Computer Crimes/Criminal Defamation Hearing Mon 2nd Feb, Bangkok

The 2nd preliminary hearing in the Computer Crimes Act and criminal defamation prosecution of migrant rights activist and Finnwatch researcher Andy Hall by Natural Fruit Co Ltd. will take place on Monday 2nd February all day at room 406 of Bangkok South Criminal Court on Charoen Nakhon Rd.

At this hearing, the prosecution is expected to continue its examination of its first witness, a member of the Natural Fruit senior management. Following cross examination by defence lawyers for Andy Hall, the prosecution is then expected to move onto cross examination of its second witness, a retired police officer representing Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. at a Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand (FCCT) launch of Finnwatch’s research report ‘Cheap has a High Price’ on 21st January 2013.

The 2013 FCCT event and Finnwatch report form part of the evidence utilised by Natural Fruit in bringing this case prosecution against Andy Hall, contracted as a short term researcher for Natural Fruit Co Ltd.

The criminal charges against Andy Hall, just one of four civil and criminal cases against him, can result in a maximum of 7 years imprisonment.

Natural Fruit Appeals Court’s Dismissal of Charges Against Andy Hall

http://www.finnwatch.org/en/news/276-natural-fruit-appeals-court’s-dismissal-of-charges

Natural Fruit Appeals Court’s Dismissal of Charges

Published: 31 December 2014

Photo: Tomi Westerholm/Unionimedia

Natural Fruit Appeals Court’s Dismissal of Aljazeera Interview Criminal Defamation Charges Against Finnwatch Researcher Andy Hall.

Finnwatch and migration researcher/activist Andy Hall have been informed that on December 24th to 26th, Natural Fruit Company Ltd. and Thailand’s Attorney General both appealed Prakanong courts October 2014 dismissal as unlawful of Aljazeera interview criminal defamation charges filed against Andy Hall in July 2013.

According to Thai law, Natural Fruit and the Attorney General have a right to appeal the decision that was given on 29th of October 2014.

Prakanong Court dismissed the case against Andy Hall reasoning that an unlawful interrogation process was undertaken not in accordance with section 120 of Thailand’s Criminal Procedure Code.

– We are disappointed to see that Natural Fruit is not going to stop its judicial harassment. The company continues to try its best to cause damage and inconvenience to Andy Hall and Finnwatch by keeping these cases going, says Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director of Finnwatch.

International experts and rights groups have condemned Natural Fruit’s lawsuits against Andy Hall. According to ICTUR’s trial observation report, the first Aljazeera interview criminal trial against Andy Hall was actually not fair, despite the eventual dismissal of the charges. Prosecution for example failed to make full disclosure to Mr Hall of all evidence available to the prosecution side before the trial.

“There was no prima facie case as all of the conduct complained off took place outside of the territorial limits of Thailand,” said Barrister Mark Plunkett in ICTUR’s report. ICTUR’s report also states that Mr. Hall had a complete defence to the charges and deserved to be acquitted on the merits.

During the first criminal trial, Prakanong court heard amongst many other witnesses from a former Natural Fruit worker who testified under oath confirming that the company was hiring underaged workers, paying unlawfully low salaries, making random deductions and hiring undocumented workers.

– Natural Fruit’s case against Andy Hall has no merit. It is unfortunate that the company will be able to drag the case on by appealing, says Vartiala

The usual process for an appeal in such a criminal case in Thailand should be as follows:

(1) Appeals court will ask Andy Hall to write his own claim on the appeal submitted already to Prakanong Court. Prakanong Court then sends all documents to the Appeals Court whose judges will consider all documents and make a judgement. Appeal decisions can take a long time, even years.

(2) Once the Appeals Court issues its judgement, it will be sent back to Prakanong Court, which then makes an appointment for both sides to come and listen to the judgement on the appeal at the Court.

(3) Natural Fruit Company Ltd, the Attorney General and Andy Hall can continue appealing the case judgement to the Supreme Court.

ICTUR publishes report on court observation Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall criminal case

For the full report please see:

http://www.ictur.org/pdf/Plunkett.pdf

AND

http://www.ictur.org/Eng/Plunkett.html