Syria frees scores of political prisoners
Syria has freed 90 political prisoners this week, including three who have been in jail for more than 20 years, a Syrian human rights group said Wednesday.
The Human Rights Association in Syria said the government had released 35 political prisoners on Monday. A member of the association, lawyer Anwar al-Buni, told The Associated Press that another 55 political prisoners were released on Tuesday.
The Monday releases included Syria's longest serving prisoner, Imad Shiha, who was jailed in 1975 for belonging to the outlawed Arab Communist Organization, as well as two members of banned Islamic groups, Abdul-Qader Ahmed and Mohammad Hallak. Ahmed was imprisoned in 1979 and Hallak in 1982.
Shiha was imprisoned in connection with his alleged involvement in bombings. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour by the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC). During the initial stage of detention he was reportedly tortured and ill-treated, apparently to force him to confess to the charges brought against him.
Al-Buni said the prisoners were freed as part of last month's amnesty by President Bashar Assad to mark the fourth anniversary of his July 2000 accession to power.
Al-Buni said most of the prisoners freed this week were affiliated to Islamic groups and had already served their sentences. He added that four were seriously ill.
Some 160 prisoners jailed for common crime or military desertion have been freed during the past two weeks, al-Buni added. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)