Defendant in alleged Highway 99 kidnapping gets interpreter

Language barrier held up hearing in kidnapping case

rahumada@modbee.comJune 21, 2013 

— A preliminary hearing will resume in the fall, now that the court has found a Somali interpreter to assist a man accused of kidnapping a woman on Highway 99 in Turlock.

Aden Aden, 22, has been charged with kidnapping, robbery, vehicle theft and possessing a stolen vehicle. The California Highway Patrol said Aden was driving a car stolen in Tempe, Ariz., where he is from, two days before the reported kidnapping on May 10.

The alleged victim has told authorities Aden choked and punched her before dragging her to the car's back seat. The woman escaped when a CHP officer intervened.

The Somali interpreter appeared in court with Aden for the first time Friday. Aden's defense attorney, Marlon Simon, told the judge that his client and the interpreter appeared to speak the same Somali dialect and they would be ready to resume the hearing in September.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff scheduled the preliminary hearing to continue Sept. 23. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for Aden to stand trial.

The defendant's preliminary hearing started last month, but it was stalled after Aden told his defense attorney he did not understand everything said in English.

A Somali court interpreter was found only in Southern California, so court officials thought an Arabic interpreter would suffice.

A week later, the Arabic interpreter told the judge that Aden seemingly understood Arabic, but responded to her in English. The defendant told the interpreter he doesn't understand Arabic, only Somali.

Zeff last month said in court he wasn't sure the defendant didn't understand English after Aden quickly answered a question from the judge, agreeing to waive his right to a continuous preliminary hearing and a speedy trial.

Nevertheless, the judge reluctantly suspended the criminal case until Friday, when the defense attorney confirmed that his client and the Somali interpreter could communicate.

Aden remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394.

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