Courthouse officials insisted the French-to-English translator be separated by glass from Magnotta for security reasons.
The scene played out Tuesday morning at a preliminary hearing in a highly-secured courtroom usually reserved for biker mega-trials.
Magnotta's trial is in English but a Montreal forensic detective, subpoenaed by the Crown, testified in French.
The court hired a man to offer what's called "whisper translation," which would have required that he sit right next to Magnotta.
Security officials refused, opting instead to have a technician rig a microphone and headset system leading from Magnotta's box to an adjacent enclosure.
The testimony continued Tuesday, with a 2.5-metre wall of glass and steel separating Magnotta from the translator.