UAE frees 329 prisoners after writing off debts

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Reuters

Published — Friday 20 March 2009

Last Update 20 March 2009 3:00 am

DUBAI: The ruler of the United Arab Emirates has ordered the release of 329 prisoners in a pardon that includes writing off more than 3 million dirhams ($816,800) of their debts, media reports said yesterday.

The decree by President Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said the prisoners would be released for good behavior, Al-Bayan daily said.

Most of the UAE’s population of about 4.5 million are foreigners, mainly Asians, Arabs and Europeans, and the number of people facing investigation on debt-related charges has risen in the global financial crisis and a property market downturn.

Dozens of projects have been canceled and thousands of people have lost their jobs.

Dubai, a member of the UAE federation, experienced a property boom that propelled it into the international spotlight with projects such as the world’s tallest building. Under UAE law, people can go to jail for bouncing checks.

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