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Saudi Arabia

King’s Ramadan gift: 1,017 prisoners freed

Authorities are working around-the-clock to examine the cases of eligible prisoners including expatriates to be released from the Kingdom’s jails in Ramadan, Brig. Ahmed Abdullah Al-Shahrani, director of prisons in Jeddah, said on Tuesday.
In an interview with Arab News, he said that prisoners with minor crimes and those who had met the conditions for royal pardon are being released from prison as a gesture of mercy and kindness of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah during the month of Ramadan.
A special committee supervised by Jeddah Gov. Mishaal bin Majed is studying the cases of inmates who can avail of the royal pardon in Ramadan. The committee will determine the eligibility of the release, he added.
Brig. Shahrani said that up until last week, 1,017 inmates had walked free and the number was due to increase in the next few days.
He said that the released prisoners included Asian and African expatriates. However, he clarified that only prisoners detained for public rights related offenses were eligible for the amnesty.
The official further said that the punitive and correctional committee is closely examining the moral behavior of the inmates in addition to the nature of the crime. He said that memorization of the Holy Qur’an was also being taken into consideration for the amnesty.
Brig. Shahrani said that this year, 30 foreign non-Muslim inmates had converted to Islam having been impressed by Islamic teachings and values.
He said that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s clemency reflects his interest to enable the released inmates to reunite with their families and relatives. He hoped that the released prisoners would turn over a new page and begin life again free from crime.
The Central Prison in Briman in Jeddah is currently being frequented by visitors of inmates to inquire if they have been pardoned or if their next of kin and friends have been released.
The inmates are being released in batches on a daily basis. Prison authorities are presenting them with gifts prior to their release. Many of the expatriate inmates shed tears of joy as they walked out of the prison.

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