VILNIUS – The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Slovenia violated the rights of a Lithuanian sentenced for a bank robbery when it provided a Russian-language, and not a Lithuanian-language, interpreter.
Slovenia will have to pay Danas Vizgirda 6,400 euros in non-pecuniary damages and cover 2,500 euros in legal costs.
The Strasbourg court also rejected the Slovenian government's claim that a Russian-language interpreter was provided since the Russian language is widely used in Lithuania.
"No other explanation was provided by the (Slovenian) Government as to what led the authorities, when appointing a Russian interpreter to assist the applicant, to believe that he had sufficient command of that language," the ruling reads.
ECHR concluded that Slovenian institutions had to verify that the applicant had sufficient command of the Russian language before deciding to use this language for interpretation.
Vizgirda was arrested and prosecuted for his involvement in a bank robbery in Slovenia in 2002. The Lithuanian was provided a Russian-language interpreter and documents translated into Russian throughout the whole prosecution process, including the police investigation, the indictment and the judicial process.
Vizgirda and three other Lithuanians were sentenced to prison for robbery, illicit enrichment and a car theft in July, 2002. Vizgirda was sentenced to more than eight years in prison. His appeal was subsequently rejected.