Thai court finds British activist guilty of defamation

Bangkok, Sep 20 (IANS) A Thai court on Tuesday found a British activist guilty of defamation, following his research into human rights violations at a pineapple processing plant in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Bangkok South Criminal Court announced the verdict in the case filed against Andy Hall by Natural Fruit Company Ltd., and sentenced him to four years in prison and ofined him 150,000 baht ($4,305), EFE news reported.

In a tweet following the verdict, the British activist wrote: “I fully respect court decision today but strongly disagree with the decision also. Shall use my right of appeal to fight to clear my name.”

He also tweeted that his four-year prison sentence was suspended for three years “as the court considered my work as a human rights activist was beneficial to Thai society” and because he cooperated in the court proceedings.

The case against Hall was linked to a 2013 report written by Finnish NGO Finnwatch called “Cheap Has a High Price”. It described what Finnwatch said were serious rights violations of migrant workers at Natural Fruit’s pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

In a news release by the NGO on Tuesday, Finnwatch Executive Director Sonja Vartiala said, “We are shocked by today’s verdict. The report was authored and published by Finnwatch; we take full responsibility for it. Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights.”

–IANS

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