Vatican City, Mar 19, 2020 / 12:19 pm (CNA).- Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Pope Francis suspended Thursday non-urgent trials in the Vatican City State’s judicial system until after April 3.
The suspension was made at the request of the sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, in a meeting with Pope Francis, according to a note from Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The provision also allows the president of the tribunal of Vatican City to take other measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19, such as limiting access to the judicial offices to those who must carry out urgent activities.
The suspension does not affect pre-trial proceedings, including investigations, nor trials where delay could cause injury to the interested parties.
Those trials which are not suspended may be conducted as “closed door” hearings, according to the provision.
The measure is like that taken by the Italian government, which suspended non-urgent criminal and civil hearings March 8-April 22.
Earlier this week the Holy See announced a new law governing Vatican City’s judicial system.
The March 16 motu proprio provided enhanced safeguards for the independence of judges and prosecutors in Vatican City to better address economic, financial and criminal cases in the sovereign territory.
Pope Francis said the changes are aimed at adapting the Vatican courts to better enforce the law, and to ensure the city state’s compliance with international commitments.