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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Officer uses Google translator in Mumbai court to understand Brazilian ‘drug smuggler’

mumbai Updated: Sep 29, 2019 00:46 IST
Vijay Kumar Yadav
Vijay Kumar Yadav

Customs officers investigating a ₹3-crore drug smuggling case had to resort to an online translation tool, Google Translate, to facilitate the communication between the judge hearing the case and the accused.

Reason? The accused in the case, Brazilian national John Bom Firm Da-Silva, 55, could only communicate in his mother tongue, Portuguese, and there was no interpreter available to facilitate the communication between him and the Esplanade Court magistrate. Using the online tool, a customs officer translated the magistrate’s questions for Da-Silva and the accused’s reply, following which, the court remanded the Brazilian national in judicial custody till October 5.

On September 23, Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) had nabbed Da-Silva from Mumbai airport for allegedly smuggling around 1kg of methaqualone, a hypnotic drug, into India. As Da-Silva had concealed the drugs in more than 75 capsules in his stomach and rectum, he was admitted to St George Hospital in Fort to retrieve them. Da-Silva was discharged on Friday after the doctors at the hospital took out the capsules from his body. He was arrested the same evening.

On Saturday, when investigating officer Amit Sharma requested the holiday court for the accused’s judicial custody, the magistrate asked Da-Silva if he was ill-treated by the officers. But when the court learnt that the accused could communicate only in Portuguese, the magistrate reprimanded Sharma for failing to bring an interpreter to the court and asked the officer to produce the accused before another magistrate in the evening.

However, Sharma told the court that the officers had been using Google Translate to communicate with Da-Silva and that he could use the tool to put forth the judge’s questions to the accused. “The court allowed Sharma to use the tool and posed questions to Da-Silva, which were translated into Portuguese using the online translator. Da-Silva told the court that he did not receive any ill-treatment and nodded in agreement when asked if his family knew about the arrest,” said public prosecutor Hemant Dave. Da-Silva was supposed to meet a peddler in the city. “The magistrate was convinced with the facts produced before him and sent Da-Silva in judicial custody,” Dave added.

First Published: Sep 29, 2019 00:46 IST

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