Thailand: Andy Hall gears up for preliminary hearing on Monday
British researcher Andy Hall won a small victory for free speech in Thailand last year, after a defamation case against him from pineapple processor Natural Fruit Company was dismissed in the Prakanong Court in Bangkok.
The fruit manufacturing company has since appealed the decision however, and on Monday the academic will face court again for a preliminary hearing under the Computer Crimes Act.
If Natural Fruit's appeal is accepted, Monday's case will be one of four pending against Hall for his allegations of human rights abuses at the company's factory, as published in the Finnwatch report "Cheap has a high price".
Readers can click here for further background on the issue.
"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 told www.freshfruitportal.com.
"It seems that they're prosecuting me for things that Finnwatch did, which is quite confusing."
Hall said his legal team was well-prepared for the case, but it was still uncertain what approach Natural Fruit would take in the hearing.
"There’s almost no disclosure of anything. It's the same as in the first case," he said.
Hall also emphasized that documents received from European pineapple concentrate buyers showed they had no intention of cutting ties with Natural Fruit in the wake of the report.
"When they gave the testimony, the director of Natural Fruit was saying that now they have to secretly sell everything via agents, but before they could do more things directly," he said.
"In order to send these suppliers pineapples in the West, they were using agents all along, but they've said in their testimony that they've had to increase the use of agents because of the case – they say they've been really negatively impacted and it's more difficult to sell, and they've lost customers because of the case.
"But as we proved in the Prakanong Court Case, and as we continue to show, we’ve got a lot of documents – particularly from Finland and in Europe – that show it’s clear that none of them had any intention to drop the company because of the report; all they did is request third party audits, particularly by non-Thai people, and the company has refused all along to have someone go in and audit them.
"That was the reason why they lost their orders...because of their own behavior and not the audit."