A judge in the United Kingdom placed a halt on the robbery trial of a kebab shop last week after a Muslim witness gave his testimony on a Bible instead of the Koran. Now he says that he regrets stopping the trial altogether.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the judge, Recorder Patrick Thompson, said the robbery trial at Liverpool Crown Court could not proceed against Michael Davies, the man accused of the crime. Davies, 38, is accused of trying to use a hammer to rob a kebab shop in Birkenhead last summer.
"It is probably best if a fresh jury who doesn't think we're all totally incompetent hears this case," Thompson said.
The Daily Mail reported that the kebab shop manager, Kevin Kurt, who revealed in court testimony that he was a Muslim, swore on the wrong holy book. In U.K. trials, people giving testimony are allowed to swear on the sacred texts of their religion.
"Followers of other faiths are given copies of their sacred texts, with Muslims swearing on the Koran and Jews on the Old Testament," the Daily Mail wrote. "Atheists are allowed to 'solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm' instead of swearing."
However, Neil Docking of Liverpool Echo reported that Thompson expressed regret over stopping the trial altogether based on that incident. He issued a statement in regards to the case, noting that it was "important to correct a false impression I may have given" after dismissing the jury.
"The complainant Kerim Kurt gave evidence before the jury after having taken an oath to tell the truth, which was sworn on the New Testament," Thompson said. "During the course of cross examination it emerged that Mr. Kurt was in fact a Muslim."
Thompson said in his statement that court staff asked Kurt on whether or not he was comfortable taking the oath on the New Testament. According to Docking, despite being given the option to switch holy books, Kurt went ahead with the oath.
"This was because Mr. Kurt had declared that he respected all holy books and wanted to swear on the holy book of the country in which he was residing," Thompson said.
Thompson emphasized that no wrongdoing occurred from either Kurt or the court staff in regards to this matter.
"I took the view that Mr. Kurt should have sworn on the Koran as a Muslim," Thompson said. "However, in hindsight, it is a personal matter for any witness as to how they wish to be sworn."
The British judge added that after much thought, "I should have accepted the evidence given by Mr. Kurt and allowed the case to proceed."