Crown seeks to split trial over interpreter shortage (Canada)

The Crown is taking the rare step of asking a judge to “sever” a trial for two people accused in the same case because of a lack of qualified language interpreters, an issue plaguing the province’s justice system.
The joint trial can’t proceed as planned over the next three to four weeks because there is no accredited Arabic interpreter available for one of the defendants, Prosecutor Glenn Crisp said Wednesday. The interpreter issue has dogged the province for years, and has recently worsened as the attorney-general’s ministry struggles to impose tough new standards.
Crisp told Ontario Superior Court Justice Alfred O’Marra that there is only one accredited Arabic court interpreter in all of Ontario, and he is unwilling to do long trials. He asked O’Marra to split the trials of Farsi-speaker Shahin Pirouzi, 31, and Arabic speaker Mahmoud Abou Al Rashta, 41, who are jointly charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The interpreter shortage is dogging other cases.
In 2009, the province instituted a new, more comprehensive testing system for court interpreters. Of the 225 who took the test, 34 per cent failed and are considered unaccredited. Those who received a mark of between 51 and 70 per cent are “conditionally” accredited.
The Court Interpreters Association of Ontario maintains the test was unfair and doesn’t accurately reflect court conditions.

Source: The

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