The lack of a sworn translator benefits a drug trafickerHome » The lack of a sworn translator benefits a drug traficker
Attorney Linsay Schoukens invoked a violation of the right to defense, and the Court was forced to grant her request, the release of her client. Her client, a twenty year-old man, was accused of drug trafficking. As he deboarded a plane arriving from Dubai on January 20th, authorities confiscated 4 kilos of cocaine he was carrying.
He was arrested at the Brussels airport. Since the alleged trafficker is Lithuanian, the trial judge contacted the Lithuanian embassy to request someone to serve as a translator. An employee from the Embassy served as a translator for the first hearings before the judge and the police. She was still serving in this role when the accused was brought for an initial appearance before a closed session of the court. In exchange for this service, the employee asked to be paid, but this request was refused by the Belgian legal authority, SPF Justice. When she was contacted again by the court, the non-sworn translator was indeed present. But she made it clear that she would not serve as a translator since she would not be paid for her services. And thus the Court was forced to release the alleged drug trafficker.
This decision by the Court was subject to an appeal by the prosecution. To prevent the release from becoming permanent, the prosecution has two weeks to appear in criminal court with a sworn Lithuanian translator.