The real meaning of the Arabic word “sharmota” yesterday took centre stage at the trial of Jihad Chabaan, the embattled manager of the Ablemkpe branch of Mawarko Restaurant.
He has been charged with assaulting a Ghanaian caterer at the eatery.
Jihad, who has vehemently denied the use of the word, insists that he does not understand it and did not tell the police that “sharmota” has a lot of meanings, as the prosecution wants the court to believe.
Under further cross-examination by the prosecution led by Chief Inspector H.A. Hanson, the accused person told the Abeka District Court, presided over by Ms. Victoria Guansah, that he did not tell the police that the meaning of the word is prostitute.
He stated that “prostitute” in Arabic is “Aahira” and not “sharmota,” contrary to the assertion by the prosecution.
C/Insp. Hanson indicated that it was necessary for Jihad to understand that he was testifying before a court of competent jurisdiction and as such ought to be careful with what he was telling the court.
But, Julio De Medeiros, his counsel, disagreed, insisting that the comments of the prosecutor amounted to threatening his client or “putting a gun on his (Jihad’s) head to answer the questions” in a certain way.
Faced with the controversy over the word “sharmota,” the judge enquired from the Arabic interpreter, Mohammed Mubarak Hidir, a lecturer at the University of Ghana, Department of Modern Languages.
Mubarak Hidir stated that it is a colloquial Arabic word which is used in places like Egypt and Lebanon.
He explained that the word usually connotes negativity and can be used to insult a lady meaning a “prostitute.”
He further argued that in modern standard Arabic, there is a word for prostitute and not “sharmota.”
Jihad’s lawyer said he was not comfortable with the action of the judge seeking the meaning of the word.
Julio claimed that the action was as though the judge had joined the prosecution to prosecute his client.
He contended that if the court intended to take the meaning from the interpreter, then he (Mubarak Hidir) had to be sworn on oath and put in the box for him to be cross-examined on what he had told the court.
Julio said it was not in the judge’s place to fish for information for the prosecution, adding that for her to ask for the meaning of “sharmota” was going beyond her jurisdiction.
He contended that per the act, the judge had stepped into the shoes of the prosecution to try Jihad.
However, Ms. Victoria Guansah said the information was for her use and not to assist the prosecution in the matter.
She indicated that she could not also let any word she does not understand just pass, especially when it had been used in the court.
Sitting continues on May 31.
The accused, 26, is reported to have dipped the head of Evelyn Boakye – the caterer- into blended pepper on February 26, 2017.
According to the prosecution, the accused offensively conducted himself when he angrily called the complainant a “prostitute.”
Jihad is facing an additional charge of intentionally and unlawfully causing harm to Evelyn when he reportedly dipped the head of the complainant in the blended pepper.