The trial of a British researcher from the Finnish NGO Finnwatch has begun. The researcher, Andy Hall, face up to seven years in prison for comments he made about the Thai pineapple industry’s treatment of migrant workers.
Earlier this year Finnwatch published a report which claimed that a large amount of the pineapple sold in Finnish supermarkets was produced by labourers who was mistreated by Thailand’s Natural Fruit Company.
According to Finland’s national public broadcasting company YLE, the court case relates to an interview Hall gave to Al-Jazeera in which he outlined the report’s claims.
“They now have to prove that I wanted to damage the company,” said Hall at the start of proceedings. “I don’t know how they are going to do that. I worked for the public good and on behalf of migrant labourers.”
YLE reports that Natural Fruit is suing for criminal defamation and demanding 7 million euros in damages. There are three charges, and they could lead to a seven year jail sentence if Hall is convicted.
Natural Fruit denies the charges, paradoxically it defend itself citing ‘Happy Workplace’ awards it has received. Hall has researched the conditions of migrant labourers for several years, and said that many of them had a hopeless fate.
“In fact I only revealed the tip of the iceberg,” he said in court.
Andy Hall has been active on twitter since the trial began. Here are tweets from 1am this morning and one from yesterday the 3rd of September. You can follow him here @