09 June 2012

Court Report day 90 - 6 June 2012

More contradictions and how the statements of Indian witnesses, who didn't want to appear in court, still ended up in court.

The day started with a non-public viewing of the video the journalist R. had made with two of the Indian crew from the dhow Hudhud in India. The two had stated that they didn't want to appear in court, didn't want to leave the country and, later, also didn't want to be interviewed in the German consulate. It is unclear whether the court even told them that the recordings of their conversation with R. would be used in court, let alone ask them. We wonder if the court would have proceeded in the same way if the people concerned had not been mere ship-crew but members of the upper class.

Then the 23 minute video was shown again in public, with a live translation from a teacher of the Urdu language. Sometimes the translator had difficulty understanding everything and had to leave passages out, which he substituted with “dot dot dot”. Both the translator and the journalist blamed this on the fact that the interviewed crew members were 'simple and uneducated people'. However, a few times it were the questions by the journalist, which the translator couldn't understand, and after a few attempts by the translator, the journalist himself translated what he had said in the video.

Development stages of a translation: uneducated - educated - dot dot dot

Therefore the examination of the video took hours, with one or two minutes being played and then the video being rewound and played again.

After a few hours one of the accused voiced what everyone had been thinking: “I have difficulty understanding, maybe the translator is not the right person to translate?”. The judge replied that the court didn't have a choice. However, when the translator for the Dutch captain of the frigate 'Tromp' made a few mistakes, she was swiftly replaced. Obviously this wasn't wanted in this case.

It became obvious that the journalist had asked leading questions, which meant that the 'uneducated' interviewees would give the desired answered. However, at no stage did they state what the German police officer (who had interviewed the journalist) had claimed they said: that they were appalled that some of the accused were able to attend school in Germany. The journalist had already told the court that this wasn't the case, but the police officer insisted. More discrepancies between the video and the statements by the police officer showed, and at one stage the judge said that he didn't know who to believe any more.

Because the showing of the film had taken so long, there wasn't enough time to answer all the questions from the lawyers. However, the journalist had stated before he came to court that he didn't have any more time. The judge got grumpy and told him that he could be forced by subpoena to appear in court. The journalist replied that his legal adviser had recommended that he shouldn't appear in court at all, and that he had only done so because he had promised the judge verbally to do so, and that no one could force him. It was obvious that he was disappointed in the German police officer.

The judge then told him that he would phone him in the morning to make another appointment, asking him, of all things, to think of the accused who have had to endure the proceedings for two years now.