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.


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