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‘Lost in translation’ syndrome postpones Siemens kickback trial in Athens

The political fallout over possible delays in the ongoing trial involving kickbacks in Greece by German multinational Siemens continued unabated on Wednesday.

Reports emerged this week that indictments against several foreign defendants remain untranslated, available only in Greek, and thus unsuitable for requesting whatever extradition or judicial assistance from the defendants’ home countries – particularly from German authorities.

Defence attorney had also demanded that the judicial documents be made available to their foreign clients in German.

A three-justice appellate court in Athens on Tuesday postponed the trial indefinitely, given that the indictments were not translated into the defendants’ mother tongue.

In a previous court session, the bench prosecutor recommended that the trial be continued, given the risk of charges being dropped to due to expiration in the statute of limitation, as the case first commenced 10 years ago. Charges range from bribery to money laundering and defendants number 64.

One of the primary defendants, Mihalis Christoforatos, the one-time head of Siemens’ subsidiary in Greece has long fled to Germany, where he retains citizenship.

A court in Munich had later declined a request by Greek judicial officials for Christoforatos’ extradition.

According to reports, prosecutors repeatedly demanded that the foreign ministry’s translation service accelerate its work on translating the voluminous case file, demands that apparently fell on “deaf ears”.