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British labour activist faces trial in Thailand

Posted on Sep 02 2014 | IANS

Bangkok, Sep 2 : A British activist known for campaigning for better working conditions has gone on trial in Thailand for defamation.

The alleged offence of defamation is one of a series of charges linked to a last year report by a Finnish watchdog group which Andy Hall had helped to write, BBC reported Tuesday.

Hall was charged following a complaint by Thailand's Natural Fruit Company, one of the companies he wrote about. If found guilty, Andy could be jailed for a year. But he also faces other charges that carry longer jail terms.

He helped to write a report, for the group Finnwatch, claiming that Natural Fruit Company, Thailand's largest producer of pineapples, mistreated its workers.

Hall is also facing charges under the computer crime act, which can result in seven years in jail. On top of that the company is seeking USD 10 million (6 million pounds) in a civil suit.

He is standing by his report and has told reporters that the charges against him amount to "judicial harassment".

A number of European retail and labour organisations have called on Natural Fruit to withdraw its charges and instead investigate Mr Hall's claims.

Thailand is today viewed as one of the world's biggest food producers.

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