The applicant, Mr. Kamasinski, was a national of United States of America accused of fraud in Austria. He did not speak German. Neither the indictment, nor the judgment was translated in English for him and the interpreter was only partially translating the hearings.
Mr. Kamasinski complained of the lack of written translation of official documents and inadequate interpretation of oral statements in violation of his right to fair trial.
The Court emphasized that the right to the free assistance of an interpreter applies not only to oral statements made at the trial hearing, but also to documentary material and the pre-trial proceedings. However there is no requirement to provide a written translation of all items of written evidence or official documents in the procedure. The interpretation assistance provided should be adequate and such as to enable the defendant to have knowledge of the case against him and to defend himself. The interpretation assistance provided should be such as to enable the defendant to have knowledge of the case against him and to defend himself, notably by being able to put before the court his version of the events. As to the written translation of indictment the Court stated that special attention must be paid to the notification of the indictment to the defendant, but there is no obligation to serve a written translation of this document.
As in the present case Mr. Kamasinski was informed of the facts of the case in several interviews and the indictment was orally translated to him in hearing, the Court found no violation in the fact that the indictment was not translated in writing. Mr. Kamasinski never complained about the quality of oral interpretation during the hearings and he was even able to submit various declarations during them. Therefore the Court did not find that Mr. Kamasinski was unable because of deficient interpretation to understand the course of the process. Also the Court ruled that there is no violation in the fact that written translation of the judgment was not provided to Mr. Kamasinski finding that as a result of the oral explanations given to him, he sufficiently understood the judgment and its reasoning to be able to lodge, with the assistance his defence counsel, an appeal against the sentence.