Andy Hall Advised No Legal Obligation to Attend Natural Fruit Bangkok South Criminal Court Indictment Hearing Today – Judges Adjourn Case Indictment until 18 Jan 2016
Bangkok South Criminal Court’s Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall criminal indictment and case management hearing was on 24th August 2015 officially set for this morning (19th October 2015) at 9am in courtroom 501.
Today’s indictment hearing related to Natural Fruit Company Ltd.’s February 2013 computer crimes and criminal defamation by publication/advertisement criminal charges against Andy Hall. These charges, only one of four cases brought by Natural Fruit Company Ltd. against Hall since February 2013, were accepted by the Bangkok South Criminal Court for proceeding to a full criminal trial on August 24th 2015 after almost one year and 7 pre-trial prosecution witness hearings. The defendant Andy Hall was then summoned for indictment and official pleadings scheduled for today (19th October 2015).
The two serious criminal charges in this case, carrying a maximum of 7 years imprisonment, concern publication of a Finnwatch report in January 2013 containing allegations regarding poor working conditions at Natural Fruit Co Ltd’s Pranburi factory. Andy Hall conducted research in November 2012 for this report as commissioned by Finnwatch but did not author or publish the report. All updated information on the multiple Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall prosecutions and ongoing saga is available at www.andyjhall.wordpress.com
Andy Hall sought his legal team’s advise recently regarding today’s hearing as he had not yet received any official summons to attend the court at his registered address. His legal team informed him that he had no legal duty or obligation to attend the court indictment hearing today nor to attend to plead at the hearing as apparently a summons was issued to an invalid address or not issued on time in order to ensure the hearing proceeded today in accordance with Thailand’s criminal law procedures.
‘I have complete respect for the rule of law and the Thai court system but will not attend court hearings unless or until I have a legal duty or obligation to do so,’ Andy Hall said today.
Last week Andy Hall’s legal team petitioned the Bangkok South Criminal Court court and informed Hall’s official address according to Thai immigration and employment department records. The court however did not order anything based on this petition and instead informed Hall’s lawyers that the court would issue an order at today’s scheduled hearing instead. Andy Hall therefore informed his legal team to attend the court on his behalf today and, should it be required, request adjournment of the indictment until a summons was delivered in accordance with the law.
At 9am today in Courtoom 501 of the Bangkok South Criminal Court, judges and defence/prosecution lawyers discussed how the summons in this case had not indeed been delivered in accordance with the law. The court therefore ordered for the summons to be re-delivered anew at the address notified by the defendant Andy Hall as being his official communication address. The court then officially adjourned the indictment and case management hearing in this case until 18th January 2016 with the expectation a summons would lawfully and officially be delivered to Andy Hall by this date.
Should a summons in this case be delivered officially to Andy Hall in accordance with law at least 15 days in advance of 18th January 2016, Andy Hall will be legally obliged to attend the Bangkok South Criminal Court on that date to be formally indicted for the crimes he is charged of, to plead not guilty and be detained pending the Court’s consideration of any bail request he should chose to make.
The Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA), Thai Union and Finnwatch have already deposited to Andy Hall’s legal team a significant amount of money as a bail surety should Andy Hall eventually be detained in relation to the Bangkok South Criminal Court criminal charges against him and in order to ensure his release on bail pending a full criminal trial expected to take place during 2016.