Lack of interpreter forces postponement of Chinese poachers’ trial
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines—The trial of nine Chinese nationals charged with poaching marine turtles in the disputed Hasa Hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) in the Spratlys was postponed for a second time Tuesday as government prosecutors and the Department of Foreign Affairs failed anew to find an interpreter for the Mandarin-speaking defendants.
Regional Trial Court Branch 52 Judge Ambrosio de Luna rescheduled the pre-trial of the case for Wednesday to give the Public Attorney’s Office, which is representing the Chinese, more time to find an interpreter.
A local Chinese businessman, who provided translation services to the courts in the past, told the Inquirer that the local Chinese community was “hesitant in helping the case.”
The businessman said the community “feared reprisal” from the Chinese government, which has refused to recognize the Philippine court’s jurisdiction over Hasa Hasa where the suspected poachers were arrested.
“All of them translating for Chinese nationals facing charges in the local courts are businessmen, who routinely travel to the mainland, and they fear the pressure from the embassy and the Chinese government,” said the local businessman, who asked not to be named for fear of Chinese reprisal.
The Chinese nationals continue to be detained at the provincial jail. They initially agreed to be represented by the PAO for their arraignment two weeks ago.
The suspects face two counts of criminal charges for violation of the Fisheries Code, after the boat that was confiscated from them by the Philippine National Police Maritime Group yielded nearly 500 live and dead marine turtles last month.
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