Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Court stumped by Russian accent ‘I’m virgin’ claim

Gibraltar’s Magistrates Court officials were baffled yesterday by the case of a man with no documents who claimed to be from the “Virgin Islands” yet spoke with a marked Russian accent.

The man, who was detained by police after he failed to produce valid papers entitling him to be in Gibraltar, told the Magistrate’s Court that his name was Albert Virgin.

Asked where he was from, he replied “the Virgin Islands”, an apparent reference to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

But Stipendiary Magistrate Charles Pitto made clear he was unconvinced that Mr Virgin was indeed from the “Virgin Islands”.

“You look and sound incredibly Russian to me,” he told the man. “What language do you speak?”

“The English language,” Mr Virgin replied in a thick Russian accent.

Mr Pitto called in the court’s Russian interpreter, who stood beside the defendant and translated the court’s proceedings.

Mr Virgin, who pleaded not guilty to the charge of being found without a valid permit or certificate, stared straight ahead and barely flinched as the translator spoke.

“I speak only English language,” he told the court again.

The police will now make enquiries with the authorities in the British Virgin Islands to establish whether or not Mr Virgin is telling the truth about his origins. In the meantime, he has been remanded in custody for a week.

The case was adjourned for a hearing in October.

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