XVI. FLAVIUS CHINDASVINTH, KING.
If a homicide takes refuge in a church.
We are not unmindful that, heretofore, many laws have been enacted and penalties prescribed to be inflicted upon the guilty according to the nature of the crime, whether it be homicide or some other offence. Yet, because the authors of these wicked deeds who are as ready to commit them as they are cunning in seeking opportunities to escape punishment, and, as they, for the most part, betake themselves for protection to the churches of God, while, at the same time, they do not fear to commit crimes in violation of the Divine precepts; for the reason that wickedness of this kind should never go unpunished, because it destroys life, and frequently impels the minds of men to the commission of worse offences, we promulgate the following decree, to be observed through all time, to wit: that, as the law directs that every homicide or malefactor shall be punished, so, whoever, according to his own impulse, or evil disposition, commits such a crime, shall never be released from liability to the law, by any excuse or influence; but in the case that he should take refuge, at the Holy Altar, a pursuer shall not presume to remove him from it without the consent of the priest. The priest having been consulted, however, and oath made that the party sought is a criminal, and liable to be publicly condemned to death; the priest himself shall drive him from the altar, and eject him from the choir; so that he who is pursuing him may arrest him. He who has thus been driven from the church shall not, however, be liable to the penalty of death; but the sight of his eyes shall be entirely destroyed; or he may be delivered up into the power of the parents or relatives of him whom he killed; and the latter shall have the right to dispose of him at their pleasure, excepting they shall not put him to death; as a warning to prevent the intentions of depraved men from being carried into effect, when they know what punishments are prepared for them; and that he whom a wicked impulse often drives to the commission of an unlawful act, may, through terror, abstain from evil.
(trans. S.P. Scott 1910: 227-228; slightly altered)