Only two interpreters in the country - and neither of them in Oxford
Judge Maria Lamb heard that the East Timorese defendant’s barrister had been unable to take instructions from her client. She asked that the matter was adjourned.
Prosecutor Matthew Rowcliffe said: “Your honour may have seen that certainly during his police interview, the defendant was assisted by a Tetum interpreter.
“That can be problematic because I understand there are only two qualified Tetum interpreters in the whole of the country.
“There certainly isn’t one [here] today.
“I am told there are two potential alternative languages. The first is Indonesian. The second is Portuguese.
“I understand the preference is Indonesian because the defendant’s Portuguese has drifted somewhat.”
In the absence of an interpreter able to translate any of the three languages, Judge Lamb adjourned the hearing until November 21 and fixed his trial for March next year.
There have been publicised problems across the country with securing interpreters at court hearings.
Earlier on Friday, another case had to be adjourned at Oxford Crown Court as there was no interpreter to translate for a Banbury man accused of breaching sex offender notification requirements.
Social media account ‘Idle Courts’ has, in recent weeks, featured complaints from advocates about their clients’ cases being held up for lack of interpreters – with Birmingham and Maidstone crown courts among those allegedly affected.