Anne Martin, University of Granada, Spain
Juan Miguel Ortega Herráez, University of Alicante, Spain – GRETI Research Group
The high profile trials of the 2004 Madrid train bomb attacks mark a watershed in the history and development of court interpreting in Spain. Traditionally, court interpreting arrangements in Spain have been less than adequate, with few enforceable requirements regarding training and accreditation of those involved. However, during the train bomb trials simultaneous interpreting was used for the first time in a Spanish courtroom (outside the Basque country) and utmost care was taken to ensure that the interpreters working at this mega-trial were experienced, trained professionals with knowledge of the different dialectal variations of Arabic spoken by the defendants and witnesses.
Moreover, translation became a major issue at the trial as the principal defendant was acquitted in part due to the deficient translation of a conversation originally in Arabic and which constituted the main evidence leading to the charges brought against him.
In this paper we will analyse the structure and organization of the interpreting services that were put into place for this trial, both in the courtroom and behind the scenes, exploring the possible reasons why such care was taken to ensure a quality service and what the possible effects may be for court interpreting in Spain in the future. We will also discuss the role assumed by the interpreters and the role ascribed to them by the legal professionals who depended on them. The results of the wide visibility given to the interpreting process through mass media coverage will also be referred to.