Four accused persons standing trial for various illegal mining (Galamsey) offenses are on the verge of being released by an Accra High Court if the state fails to provide interpreters for their trial.
The four, made up of three Chinese nationals: Shi Yang, Li Wei Guo, Shi Mei Zhi and a Vietnamese NguYen Thi Thianh Tuyen have had their case adjourned a number of times due to the absence of an interpreter.
At the last hearing, the charges of the three Chinese were read and explained to them in their language to which they pleaded not guilty to. That of the Vietnamese was however deferred because of language barrier. There was no interpreter to interpret the charge to her.
When the case was called on Tuesday morning, a representative of the court registry told Justice Lydia Osei Marfo that after painstaking efforts to get a Vietnamese interpreter through the Institute of Languages, they hadn’t been able to reach him after he agreed to a zoom because he was out of the jurisdiction.
“As at this morning, we have tried getting in touch with Solomon(liason for Vietnamese interpreter) but he’s not responding.
” The chief inspector came to my office this morning to tell her about this situation and she promised that she’ll call back. We called back to find out from her and she said she’s called Solomon but he’s not picking the call.” the rep told the court.
The Chinese interpreter was also absent in court.
Responding to the development Justice Marfo had this to say:
” Clearly the Judicial service doesn’t have any interpreter in this language. The interpreter for the Chinese language is equally not a staff of the Judicial service. Incidentally he was provided by the institute of languages. Today, he too isn’t in court because he has had to travel outside of the country to undertake his own business activities.
“This is really a challenge to this court. This court cannot effectively hear this case if we’re not assured of the relevant court interpreters who can speak the language of the accused persons. Especially those that will speak some international languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish etc.”
She added that if the state fails to provide the requisite interpreters she would release the accused persons who have been charged together with alleged galamsey kingpin, Aisha Huang.
” I adjourn this case for the last time. If we don’t get these interpreters in this court i.e Chinese and Vietnamese, I will release the accused persons either conditionally or unconditionally,” Justice Lydia Osei Marfo stated.
Article 19 (2)(d) of Ghana’s constitution states that “A person charged with a criminal offense be informed immediately in a language he understands, and in detail; of the nature of the offense charged.
The case has since been adjourned to November 25.