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It's Dutch to me: Lifeline case delayed again due to lack of translators

Judgement now not expected until after Christmas recess

Lifeline captain Claus-Peter Reisch with his lawyers outside the law courts. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina (file photo)

Lifeline captain Claus-Peter Reisch with his lawyers outside the law courts. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina (file photo)

As the Lifeline case resumed on Monday morning, the court had to resolve a translation hitch which reared its head on account of unavailability of court translators to translate documents received from the Dutch authorities.

Lifeline captain Claus-Peter Reisch is charged with steering an unregistered boat in Maltese territorial waters, due to issues with the migrant rescue vessel's certification. His legal team has repeatedly objected to the delays in the case, which has dragged on since July. 

When prosecuting Inspector Daryl Borg presented the documents, just received from the Dutch authorities on Friday in reply to a European Investigation Order from the Attorney General’s Office, the court immediately pointed out that the documents needed to be translated to Maltese.

Upon being informed that the two experts indicated on the official list were unavailable, the court addressed the parties. “Who are we to appoint? This is an urgent matter.”

Upon being informed that the assistance of a local translation agency could be sought, Magistrate Joseph Mifsud summoned the Criminal Court Registrar to obtain proper authorization for this outsourced task. 

Once the green light had been granted, the Court informed the captain and the other parties, all duly present, that the case was to be adjourned to next Wednesday when the said translations are expected to be ready.

Those documents are to bring to an end the evidence stage of the prosecution, thus giving start to the next stage of the proceedings, namely the hearing of defence witnesses which, according to lawyer Cedric Mifsud, are to be Mr Reisch himself and the owner of the Lifeline.

Those testimonies will have to wait until the defence team has consulted the translated texts after Wednesday.

“Had the evidence stage been closed by Wednesday, I would have been in a position to deliver judgment on December 4,” Magistrate Mifsud remarked.

Once the defence needed more time to summon its witnesses, the judgment would have to be delivered at a later date, probably after the Christmas recess.

Whilst authorizing the Captain to leave Malta under previous conditions, the Court adjourned the case to Wednesday for the presentation of the translated documents and to a later date in December for the final witnesses to be heard.

Inspector Mario Haber also prosecuted. Lawyer Gianluca Cappitta and Neil Falzon were also defence counsel.

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