Decision No. 1877/2000 of the Supreme Court (6th Criminal Section)
|Publisher||Greece: Supreme Court|
|Author||Supreme Court of Greece|
|Citation / Document Symbol||1877/2003|
|Other Languages / Attachments||Greek|
|Cite as||Decision No. 1877/2000 of the Supreme Court (6th Criminal Section), 1877/2003, Greece: Supreme Court, 2000, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/41207e3f4.html [accessed 3 March 2015]|
|Comments||This is a summary in English provided by UNHCR Athens.|
Summary of facts: Mr. É.ï., a national of Rwanda, was sentenced by ruling 1/1999 of the Syros 3-member Court of Misdemeanors to 15 days imprisonment. At the beginning of the trial, an interpreter was appointed to him, since he did not speak the Greek language. The interpreter gave the relevant oath, as per article 236 of the Criminal Procedures Code (CPC), and swore to interpret faithfully from Greek into English (a language that Mr. É.ï declared to know) and vice-versa of all things that would be said in the hearing. However, nowhere in the court minutes was it mentioned that interpretation of all the things said during the hearing of the case was done for É.ï, as stipulated in article 417 and following of CPC, while Mr. I.O. was not represented by a defense lawyer. Mr. É.ï. applied for a review of the case before the Supreme Court, complaining that his rights as a defendant were not protected adequately.
Reasoning: The combination of articles 233, 236 para. 1 and 362 para. 2 CPC lead to the conclusion that the person conducting the inquest or in charge of the hearing appoints an interpreter for the examination of a defendant who does not adequately know the Greek language. The interpreter, before taking up his duty, gives an oath to interpret accurately and faithfully everything that will be said during the discussions. If the defendant who does not know adequately the Greek language, is not appointed an interpreter, or if what is said during the hearing of the case is not interpreted or is not accurately and faithfully interpreted to this latter, the rights of the defense are violated; this leads to absolute nullity of the acts taken and constitutes a ground for a review.
In forming its opinion, the Supreme Court took into consideration that at no point of the minutes of the trial, whose ruling was issued with the number 1/1999 by the Syros 3-member Court of Misdemeanors, mention is made that the fact that the appellant, Mr. É.ï. a national of Rwanda, received interpretation of all the things said during the hearing of the case, which took place according to the procedure of articles 417 and following of CPC, in which he was not represented by a defense lawyer. It is not, thus, possible to ascertain whether the statement of the judge presiding the case about the rights of defendants, as per art. 423 CPC, to ask for the appointment of a defense lawyer and for a postponement of the case so as to prepare the defense, the act of accusation by the Public Prosecutor and his proposal on the defendant's guilt and the sentence as well as the final ruling of the Court, were interpreted, accurately and faithfully, to the defendant.
The Supreme Court quashed the said decision for reasons of absolute nullity in the audience and returned the case for a new discussion to the same court composed, though, of different judges.