In one of the worst examples of “lost in translation”, the Chinese parents of a five-year-old girl who plunged 21-storeys to her death in Lisbon last year heard that Portuguese authorities have condemned them to death.
As their lawyer has told Lisbon’s Comarca court this may be viewed as a simple error in Portugal where the death penalty was abolished 150 years ago, but it could be interpreted in China to the letter, bearing in mind the death penalty still exists there.
Thus the call to throw out the poorly translated Public Ministry accusation – understood to include at least a dozen other translation errors – and substitute it with another one, “properly translated into Chinese Mandarin”.
As for the shock of hearing the erroneous condemnation in their own language, it caused great upset, the lawyer told the court, plunging the already-grieving parents into a “profound state of despair”, and prompting levels of stress that “prejudiced their mental health”.
This is a case that has already dragged on for months due to delays in translation.
The parents, both in their 40s and resident in Portugal as a result of the Golden Visa programme, are accused of the crime of abandonment, which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.
Their daughter fell to her death in February 2016 after waking up alone in the family’s apartment while the parents were out at Lisbon casino (click here).