The criminal defamation and computer crime case against human rights activist Andy Hall – the preliminary hearing of which started yesterday – has been put off, with the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court postponing the trial until next year.
According to Hall’s reporting to Myanmar’s news website Mizzima, the court only provided enough time for one prosecution witness to give testimony and no time for cross-examination by the defendant’s lawyers. A cross-examination in which both sides are able to interrogate the main prosecution witness, as well as hearing and cross-examining other prosecution witnesses, will take place on 2 February 2015.
Hall says that he is pleased that he and his legal team have over two months’ time to prepare for the next preliminary hearing on 2 February and respond to the claims Natural Fruit made in court yesterday. “With my passport in hand and no outstanding travel limitations, I’m happy to be able to travel freely over the Christmas and New Year period too.”
Together with a vast group of fellow international NGOs, Fairfood International is demanding that Natural Fruit and the prosecutors now drop all charges against Andy Hall. In addition, we urge the Thai Government to ensure that criminal defamation laws cannot be used to silence human rights defenders. Yesterday, the EU Delegation to Thailand expressed its concern over the increasing misuse of criminal defamation laws in Thailand, with recent cases such as the Andy Hall case demonstrating a worrying tendency to use criminal defamation laws as a scare tactic to silence freedom of expression and investigative journalism in the country.