Language barrier holds up 50kg cocaine case

A LANGUAGE barrier has caused a delay in the court case of a man who was charged over a drug bust where more than 50kg of cocaine was found in barrels at Mackay railway yards.

The Brisbane Supreme Court heard on Friday that one of the accused, German Rendon Alvarezhas previously pleaded guilty but wants to change this in the Supreme Court.

He is contesting whether legal advice he received previously was adequate.

Mr Rendon Alvarez was among a group of men accused of being involved in a cocaine drug importation gang after Australian Federal Police found cocaine hidden in 17 of 600 barrels of hydraulic oil at Mackay rail yards in 2011.

Mr Rendon Alvarez requires a Spanish interpreter and has applied to have one present in court at a hearing later this month, where lawyers will discuss whether or not to set aside his guilty plea.

Andrew Bale, currently representing Mr Rendon Alvarez, told the court on Friday that his client believed "there is a significant issue with the way the translation was conducted" when he sought legal advice.

But Mr Rendon Alvarez has not signed appropriate paperwork to allow this to proceed.

Justice Debra Mullins said on Friday the hearing was less than a fortnight away.

"The first hurdle, experience shows, people plead guilty even though they might dispute some of the facts against them because they make a forensic decision," Justice Mullins said.

She said the main issue in this would be about the advice Mr Rendon Alvarez was given when deciding whether or not to plead guilty, and the translation of this advice.

Mr Bale said he would meet with his client at Rockhampton jail early next week to try to resolve the matter.

Mr Rendon Alvarez has requested a Colombian Spanish interpreter to be present at his next court hearing on August 11 in Brisbane.


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