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Weightlifter's trial adjourned

The trial of a Commonwealth Games weightlifter accused of sexually assaulting a man in a supermarket has been adjourned until next week following difficulties finding an interpreter.

Papua New Guinea athlete Toua Udia, 22, denies carrying out the alleged assault at a Tesco store in Dalmarnock Road, Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, on Monday July 21 and was due to stand trial today.

But Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that efforts to find an interpreter for the accused have so far proved "completely fruitless" throughout the UK.

His defence lawyer argued that, in the circumstances, it was not appropriate for the case to continue, but the prosecution asked for the trial to be delayed.

Sheriff Norman Ritchie QC adjourned the trial until Monday morning.

Udia was arrested following a report of an alleged incident at the supermarket near the athletes' village.

At court, he pleads not guilty to the single charge he faces under the 2009 Sexual Offences Act.

His defence lawyer told the hearing that it was initially thought Udia, who understands some English, would not need an interpreter if long and difficult words were not used.

But as preparations for the trial continued, it became clear an interpreter would be required.

Ian Moir, defending, told the court of difficulties faced by the authorities in securing the services of an interpreter.

Papua New Guinea is an area where in excess of 800 languages and dialects are spoken, he said.

The court heard of hopes of securing an interpreter through the High Commission and of contact with an agency in the south of England, but a suitable interpreter has not yet been traced.

The Crown, who do not have responsibility for organising an interpreter, called for the case to be adjourned until Tuesday.

Mr Moir argued it was not appropriate for the case to continue "in the slight hope that an interpreter in an obscure language is available in two or three days' time".

He told the court Udia is scheduled to fly home on Wednesday.

Adjourning the trial until Monday, Sheriff Ritchie told the court that a hearing on Tuesday would "cut it very fine" and allowed no room for any hiccups in the process.

He said he backed the Crown's motion for a postponement until next week "with considerable hesitation".

He told the court: "The essence of the matter is this - the need for an interpreter was only established yesterday. Efforts have been made so far without success."

He went on: "I'll adjourn the trial until Monday. That allows efforts to be made today. I expect if a trial is to proceed at all it is to commence on Monday."

The Commonwealth Games Federation has previously said it was aware of the allegation against Udia, who took part in the men's 77kg category at the Clyde Auditorium at the weekend.

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