The struggle to ensure fair trial continues in the iuventa case

May 27, 2023

At the latest hearing in the pre-trial proceedings against the iuventa crew and 17 others, the defence again criticised the inadequate translation of the case files and requested a referral to the European Court of Justice in order to obtain a landmark decision on this issue. Furthermore, the public prosecutor office took a position on the constitutional complaint previously filed by the defence.

The problem of the insufficient translation of the trial documents had to be taken up again. To date, important documents for the defence have not been translated. While a police summary has been translated, the annexes – consisting of 446 documents, including audio and video files, photos, wiretap transcripts and other notes – have not.

Nicola Canestrini, iuventa defence lawyer:The problem here is a systemic one. The difficulties faced by defendants are the result of the cowardice of governments. Governments and European legislators want to save money at the detriment of the fundamental rights of the defendants.

Based on the 2010/64/EU directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, essential documents should always be translated. What is to be considered “essential” is largely left to the member states and ultimately to the discretion of national prosecutors and judges. But what is essential for an effective defence? According to Canestrini this should be determined putting the rights of the defendant in front and center of every determination.

We ask the judge to refer the question for a preliminary ruling to the European Court in Luxembourg to clarify with immediate applicability to all member states of the European Union what the essential acts must be“, says Nicola Canestrini.

 Sascha Girke, iuventa defendant: “As highlighted in the #NoTranslationNoJustice campaign, the lack of sufficient translation and interpretation goes far beyond our case and affects all foreign defendants. To date, we do not have access to a translated version of the full statement of the charges against us. The statements of the main prosecution witnesses are missing, despite the fact that the prosecution builds its case on them.”

In the matter of the constitutional complaint, which was filed on 12.05.23 by the iuventa defence on Article 12 of the “Italian Immigration Act”, the public prosecutor office requested the dismissal of the complaint.

Francesca Cancellaro, iuventa defence lawyer:“”He argued that ‘the legislators’ decisions on criminal law policy were criticised by our complaint’. He is right. Every decision to criminalise  certain behaviour must at least comply with the principle of  reasonableness and proportionality, otherwise it is arbitrary and  unlawful. We have challenged precisely those decisions that do not  express the legitimate discretion of the legislator.