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Gov’t decides on New Year prisoner pardons

The government has finalised plans for next month’s annual Khmer New Year clemency, with more than 800 prisoners across the country expected to receive pardons and sentence reductions, according to an Interior Ministry official.

Earlier this month, the Interior Ministry submitted a list to the Justice Ministry naming more than 900 inmates it wanted to be considered for clemency.

General Be Tea Leng, director of the Interior Ministry’s Operations Department, said yesterday that 812 of those prisoners, including 70 women, have been deemed eligible.

“The government has now asked the King to give pardons and sentence reductions [to these inmates] due to their good rehabilitation living in prisons,” he said, declining to elaborate on how many of the 812 will be pardoned, and how many will see sentence reductions.

He said the majority of those expecting clemency were convicted on theft and drug charges. Others have been convicted of murder and “have served up to 19 years out of their 20-year sentences”.

According to Tea Leng, in addition to these inmates, 43 incarcerated women who are pregnant or have their children with them in prison will also be released during Khmer New Year, with efforts being made to push forward the trials of those in pre-trial detention.

Twenty-two other such women were released on International Women’s Day earlier this month, at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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