Interpreter’s English questioned

Interpreter Khaled Atwa Nabil outside the Subordinate Courts on 6 November 2013. He is a witness in the sex for match-fixing trial of businessman Eric Ding Si Yang.

A hearing turned into an English lesson of sorts when a defence lawyer started explaining English words to a witness.

Words like "reside", "bulk", "freelance" and "ad hoc" stumped part-time Egyptian interpreter Khaled Atwa during the sex-for-match-fixing trial involving businessman Eric Ding on Tuesday.

Ding, 31, allegedly bribed Lebanese referee Ali Sabbagh and assistant referees Abdallah Taleb and Ali Eid with sexual favours to fix matches.

Mr Atwa interpreted for Mr Taleb and Mr Eid when they gave statements to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau on the day they were repatriated.

When Ding's lawyer, Mr Yusfiyanto Yatiman, let slip a smile after Mr Atwa said he did not understand the word "freelance", the interpreter said: "I'm sorry, I see you laughing, but you used some word (which may not be) used in the US (so) it might not be familiar."

The Egyptian, who works here as a full-time bus driver, had said earlier that he had spent six years in New York, where he helped his father's friend translate documents.

He said he had been asked to interpret in court, in the hospital, and the health department in the US.

When Mr Yusfiyanto probed further, Mr Atwa explained that he had not been officially appointed as an interpreter, but was just helping a family friend.

Mr Yusfiyanto also pointed out that the Egyptian's degree in business administration was irrelevant to his interpretation work.

Mr Atwa agreed.

During the cross-examination, Mr Yusfiyanto told Mr Atwa: "During the course of my questioning this morning, you... said a few times you did not understand my question."

The witness replied: "(It is) because you are actually trying to ask me in a not direct question. That's why I feel I need to understand the question clearly."

The "English lesson" developed into one on Arabic slang when Mr Yusfiyanto asked about the difference between the Arabic spoken in Egypt and in Lebanon.

"They speak like us, but we don't speak like them," Mr Atwa replied, to the lawyers' laughter.

The interpreter explained that the Lebanese have an additional accent that the Egyptians do not use.

ABOUT THE CASE

Businessman Eric Ding Si Yang allegedly bribed three Lebanese match officials when they were here to officiate an Asian Football Confederation match on April 3.

Assistant referees Abdallah Taleb and Ali Eid received three-month jail terms on June 10, but were released that day as their sentences were backdated to their remand on April 4.

Referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, who was sentenced to six months' jail for corruption in June and released on Aug 3 for good behaviour, testified against Ding previously.

If convicted, Ding can be fined up to $100,000, jailed up to five years, or both.

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