English-Speaking Defendant on Trial for Raping Seven-Year-Old Gets Free Pass Because Court Could Not Find Interpreter in His Obscure Language
This is one of the most outrageous decisions I have ever heard about — on several levels.
Charges against a man accused of raping and repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl have been dropped because the court took too long to find an interpreter fluent in his native West African language.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge Katherine D. Savage dismissed the nearly three-year-old case against Mahamu Kanneh last week, saying the delays had violated the Liberian immigrant’s right to a speedy trial.
The evidence sounds strong, as multiple “witnesses told police he assaulted the girl multiple times.”
No matter. The courts couldn’t find an interpreter to translate proceedings into “Vai, a tribal language that linguists estimate is spoken by about 100,000 people mostly in Liberia and Sierra Leone.”
Minor point: he probably didn’t need the interpreter anyway.
Prosecutors pointed out that Kanneh attended high school and community college in Montgomery and spoke to detectives in English.
A court-appointed psychiatrist recommended that an interpreter be appointed and judges who handled subsequent hearings heeded that advice.
So the courts didn’t even try to find a qualified interpreter? No they tried. Lord, how they tried:
But officials could not find a competent interpreter of Vai who would stay.
The first interpreter stormed out of the courtroom in tears because she found the facts of the case disturbing.
A second interpreter was rejected for faulty work. A third Vai interpreter was located, but at the last minute, that person had to tend to a family emergency.
In recent weeks court officials had found a suitable interpreter, but Savage ruled that too much time had already passed.
Sure, he was out of custody. But rules are rules. It’s only fair — don’t you think??
UPDATE: Yes, that is sarcasm.