Appeals Court to Rule on Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall ‘Aljazeera’ Case: 18th Sep at Prakanong Court

A ruling by an Appeal Court on the legality of the Prakanong Court’s 2014 dismissal of the Natural Fruit criminal defamation charge against Andy Hall will be read at Prakanong Court at 9.30am on Friday 18th September 2015 (Case No. 2051/2557, Prakanong Court, Sanphawut Road, Bang Na 10260, Bangkok).
Andy Hall is required to attend the hearing on Friday in person. The hearing has several possible outcomes.

First, the Appeal Court may reject the appeal. If not satisfied with the decision, the plaintiffs Natural Fruit or the Attorney General can then appeal the dismissal further to the Supreme Court.

Secondly, if the Appeal Court accepts the appeal, it can also rule on the facts of the case immediately based on the previous 2014 trial. The Appeals Court can find Andy Hall either guilty or not guilty of criminal defamation. If Andy Hall is found guilty, he can be imprisoned, asked to pay a fine and/or detained pending a bail request and filing of an appeal.

Thirdly, the Appeals Court can also accept the appeal but order the Prakanong Court to look anew at the case again. In this case, the Prakanong Court will have to rule on the facts of the case as per the information presented during the trial in September 2014. No further hearings will be held and no new information considered. Andy Hall can be detained pending the ruling. If detained, he can seek release on bail.

BACKGROUND
The charge in this prosecution case by the Attorney General and Natural Fruit Company Ltd. relates to an interview Andy Hall gave to Aljazeera English in Yangon, Myanmar in April 2013 and carries a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment if convicted. Natural Fruit filed the case in July 2013 and the Prakanong Court heard the case in September 2014. In October 2014, the Prakanong Court dismissed the case on the grounds of flawed interrogation process that was in breach of the Thai Criminal Procedure Code. Thailand’s Attorney General/Public Prosecutor and Natural Fruit filed their appeal on the legality of the dismissal to an Appeal Court in January 2015.

Ironically, the Aljazeera interview concerned another case Natural Fruit had filed against Andy Hall – a criminal defamation and computer crimes case which relates to the publication of Finnwatch report Cheap Has a High Price in January 2013. The report exposed labour rights violations at the Natural Fruit pineapple processing plant, and Andy Hall had conducted interviews with the workers at the plant for the report. The preliminary hearings on this criminal defamation and computer crimes case concluded on 20th July 2015. The Bangkok South Criminal Court subsequently decided to proceed with this case and Andy Hall will be formally indicted in a separate hearing on 19th October 2015. Andy Hall will plead not guilty to all charges and he will then be detained pending a bail request.

Natural Fruit has also filed two corresponding civil defamation claims against Andy Hall requesting over 400 million baht in damages.

The cases brought against Andy Hall have been widely criticised as judicial harassment and an attempt to silence a human rights defender. Criminal defamation charges also breach the right to freedom of expression.

Independent trial observers who attended the trial against Andy Hall in September 2014 concluded in their report that Andy Hall should have been released on merit, and that the Thai Courts did not have jurisdiction on the case as the Aljazeera interview took place in Myanmar

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT
Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director, Finnwatch: +358(0)445687465,
sonja.vartiala@finnwatch.org, http://www.finnwatch.org [1]
Andy Hall, Researcher: +66(0)846119209, andyjhall1979@gmail.com, twitter @atomicalandy, https://andyjhall.wordpress.com/ [2]
Nakhon Chomphuchart, Legal Advisor to Andy Hall: +66(0)818473086, nakhonct@gmail.com

Q&A DOCUMENT, UPDATED IN SEPTEMBER 2015 at http://finnwatch.org/images/FINALAndyHallQA-September2015.pdf
Links:
——
[1] http://www.finnwatch.org

[2] https://andyjhall.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s