A Punjabi-speaking man has claimed he was denied a fair trial on a charge of indecently assaulting a prostitute because of inadequate interpreting.
Yassar Hassan, 24, was jailed for six years after being convicted by a jury’s majority verdict at the High Court in Glasgow of attacking the woman in his flat in the city in June 2010.
He is challenging the conviction at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, on the ground that the “absence of accurate and comprehensible interpreting prejudiced his full involvement in the trial.”
Hassan said he believed the female interpreter had not translated exactly what had been said in evidence, often using euphemisms. He had understood about only 40 per cent of what she told him.
“In our culture, she would not be able to talk freely...females can’t speak openly with a male,” he told the appeal judges, through a male interpreter.
He felt his account of events had not been put across properly to the jury.
“I could not say what I wanted to say. If I had done so, I would not be here today...I would have been a free person,” he added.
Hassan accepted that he had known it was important to understand what was being said in court, yet he had spoken only once to his solicitor about his concerns, and that had led to the judge reminding the interpreter of her duties.
“I didn’t know what to do because I had never been in court before. I was frightened,” he stated.
The appeal judges will give a ruling later.