Court: Language Issue Delays $8.5M Heroin Case

December 1, 2017

[Written by Don Burgess]

A man accused of “the biggest heroin seizure” in Bermuda’s history had his case delayed, because there was no one available who speaks his language.

It is alleged that Josef Vleck, 47, from the Czech Republic, in September was caught with almost three kilograms of heroin, worth approximately $8.5 million.

Charles Richardson, the defendant’s lawyer, said Mr Vleck only speaks Czech, and so far there are only two people he has been able to identify who speak it in Bermuda, and one of them assisted the police in interrogating the accused.

Mr Richardson said that despite his best efforts, “without an interpreter by my side it is very difficult for me to communicate with my client.”

He said one person assisted the police, and it would be a conflict.

“And the other is a young lady, who by no means is professionally bound to do it. She’s not all that enthusiastic about assisting; maybe some financial incentive might help,” he said, adding that whoever assists, would have to be bound to confidence.

Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons recommended to Mr Richardson that he seek financial assistance from Legal Aid to help pay for an interpreter.

“We’re about to take a man to trial in what we call the biggest heroin seizure in history and his counsel can’t even really talk to him,” Mr Richardson said, adding that there is an urgency to have someone available so his client could be represented properly.

Mr Richardson added, “Constitutionally, if you arrest a man and you can’t speak his language, that you have to go and get someone that allows you to speak to him and allows him to speak to his attorney. If not, you deprive him of his constitutional rights.”

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