Germany: Court moves trials to outdoor tent to uphold COVID safety measures

The Regional Court in Limburg, west of Germany, is hearing major criminal cases in an external courtroom set in a tent, as seen on Wednesday. Due to pandemic and the hygiene measures imposed by the government, the premises in the original regional court building are now not sufficient for large trials involving several parties. «Trials that normally take place in small courtrooms are now held in big courtrooms because of the social distancing requirements,» said Henrik Gemmer, Presiding Judge at Limburg District Court, adding «Because of that, we don't have enough capacities for big trials.» When the Regional Court started to look for a solution, they first thought about renting conference halls of community centres. However, «renting such spaces are much more expensive» and community centres can't be rented daily or conference halls should be rented weeks or even months in advance,» Gemmer explained. So the Regional Court moved to a tent, which is located next to the police headquarters. The first trial in the new court took place on June 30 with a case involving drugs. The tent is equipped with modern lighting and sound technology and a large flat-screen TV and can be air-conditioned in summer and heated in autumn and winter. It cost around €14,000 (US$ 15,970) to be built and monthly expenses including space rental are around €16,500 (US$ 18,820). The courtroom is designed to host trials with up to eight defendants and has 28 seats available for the audience, which offers the possibility of making trials accessible to a wider public again.
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