British activist Andy Hall has been pursued through courts in Bangkok relentlessly since early 2013 after he exposed abused labour at global fruit juice business National Fruit Company. Hall interviewed Thai company Natural Fruit’s workers for a report published by Finnwatch, a Finnish human rights watchdog, in 2013.
Finnwatch testified in court yesterday, June 12. Finnwatch noted that it was not Hall as a hired investigator who wrote or published the report but Finnwatch.
“Henry Purje and I were responsible for analysing, writing and publishing [the report]. It’s not Mr Hall,” Sonja Vartiala, executive director of the NGO, told the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court yesterday.
“We just wanted Mr Hall to interview the workers for us with guidelines of questions provided to him.
“When we received the information, we analysed it and sent questions for the companies to respond. When the companies did not respond we referred to it in the report,” she said.
Natural Fruit filed four lawsuits against Mr Hall. On Sept 18, 2015, the Appeal Court ruled in favour of Mr Hall on the charge of defamation.
The other three pending cases against Mr Hall, including a criminal case, involve charges related to computer crime and defamation.
If found guilty, the human rights defender may face up to seven years in prison.