Jury trials at the High Court will be temporarily halted in an effort to protect residents from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Governor Augustus Jaspert made that announcement during a live social media interview with the Government Information Service on Monday.
“Because you have a large number of persons on the jury, [halting jury trials is] just to reduce the risks of many people gathering in one place. They (the courts) are going to keep going as much as they can, but we also have to protect ourselves, reduce the risk of transmission and have our social distancing measures in place,” the Governor explained.
But besides pushing back jury trials, the Governor said Cabinet is also limiting the number of persons who enter the courtroom.
“There will be things set up to ensure that there will be communication which was already there like video links between the prison and the court so that cases can be heard without necessarily gathering inside the court,” he said.
In the meantime, Deputy Commissioner of Police Alwin James, who was also being interviewed, said the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force is playing its part in providing more bail offers to accused offenders.
“The police force will be utilizing that where it is necessary,” he said. “There are also arrangements with the court and the DPP for the appearance of persons who are charged for offences we consider to be urgent and should appear before the court.”
James further said he believes the current COVID-19 pandemic could affect the court by creating a backlog of criminal matters.
“Persons are going to be delayed in terms of having their matters heard, but those are the sort of things that we consider that would affect the operations,” he stated.
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