PRESS RELEASE from Finnwatch
The Prakanong Court in Bangkok, Thailand today read its verdict on a civil damages claim against Andy Hall, filed by the pineapple company Natural Fruit Co Ltd, ordering Andy Hall to pay 10 million baht (260 000 euros) in damages to the company. Court also additionally order Hall to pay 10,000 baht for the plaintiff’s lawyer and the court fee including the interest of 7.5% from the date of filing this case until the amount is fully paid.
The case relates to an interview Andy Hall gave to Al-Jazeera English in Myanmar in April 2013.
“We are absolutely appalled by today’s ruling. It comes as a shock,” said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch.
“This decision restricts freedom of expression and prevents exposing human rights violations. It is difficult to grasp.”
The Prakanong Court has already once dismissed this civil case citing its lack of jurisdiction to legally try the case. However, following an appeal by Natural Fruit, the Appeals Court in August 2017 ordered the Prakanong Court to accept jurisdiction and hear the case in full.
The hearing of witnesses for the reopened case concluded in February 2018. Both the prosecution and the defence however only re-submitted previous witness testimony. The case has been ongoing for 5 years within the Thai justice system.
“The Thai justice system continues to be used to swamp human rights defenders with endless court cases. It’s an effective way to prevent all public criticism towards companies,” said Vartiala.
For more information please see Q&A: Criminal and Civil Prosecutions – Natural Fruit vs. Andy Hall, last updated on 26th March 2018, available athttp://finnwatch.org/images/NaturalFruitvsAndyHallQA_March2018.pdf