Andy Hall again absent from hearing
•Published: 19 Aug 2013 at 12.05
Migrant rights advocate Englishman Andy Hall failed to turn up for a hearing of the defamation case against him in the Criminal Court on Monday, for the fourth time, and the plaintiff, a fruit juice packager, again asked the court to try to locate him.
The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court adjourned the case against Mr Hall to Sept 13, 2013.
The Natural Fruit Company Ltd filed a criminal defamation charge on Feb 14 against Mr Hall for an investigative report, commissioned by Finnwatch, on alleged serious labour rights violations at the company’s factory in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
Andy Hall (Photo by Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai)
The British activist has never shown up at the court. The first hearing was on April 1. He is believed to be no longer n Thailand.
The court has asked the plaintiff to advise it of Mr Hall’s official residence overseas, so the lawsuit could be properly forwarded to him as required by the Criminal Procedure Code
On Monday, the court allowed Natural Fruit more time to locate the defendant, and also instructed the plaintiff’s lawyer to prepare English language versions of all documents required in the lawsuit.
If he cannot be found, the official channel of filing the criminal charge against a defendant would be expedited – the Office of the Court of Justice would send charge-related documents to the British Embassy, asking them to locate the permanent address of the defendant so the process could be completed.
The Natural Fruit Company, which produces canned pineapple and juice concentrate using a workforce comprised primarily of migrant workers from Myanmar, asserted that Mr Hall defamed and damaged the company by “broadcasting false statements to public media”.
He was charged with criminal defamation under the Penal Code and the Computer Crimes Act.
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Writer: Achara Ashayagachat