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Pardons given to 70

Pardons given to 70

Seventy prisoners are to be released during Khmer New Year next week in an amnesty that will also see hundreds of prison sentences reduced by up to a year.

The Ministry of Justice approved 555 applications for sentence reductions and pardons following a request by its General Department of Prisons last month.

Seventy prisoners, including some foreign nationals, had their requests denied because they “did not follow the procedures”, said Sam Prochea Meanith, the Ministry of Justice’s chief of cabinet.

“Those who get their sentences pardoned have served two-thirds of their sentences and are willing to change their ways and can go back to live in society,” Meanith said.

Inmates serving time for serious offences are not eligible for the program, Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana said.

“Those convicted of child rape, terrorism and drug offences will not be pardoned,” he added.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, said corruption played a significant role in determining who received pardons or reduced sentences.

“Due to corruption, some of the inmates have already carried out two-thirds of their sentences,” he said, referring to alleged payoffs to prison authorities in exchange for reduced jail time.

“But others are not pardoned, such as in the case of Sar Song, who was sentenced to jail for his land disputes,” he added, referring to a villager from Kampong Chhnang province who was sentenced in 2007 for beating a man during an argument over a longstanding land dispute with a firm called KDC International.