Several Dozen Turkish Prisoners Released under Amnesty Law

Published December 22nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Several dozen inmates were released from Turkish jails on Friday as part of a controversial amnesty law aimed at halving the population in overcrowded and riot-torn prisons, the Anatolia news agency reported. 

The release came as Turkey concluded a crackdown on hunger-striking leftists in scores of jails following a four-day stand-off with armed prisoners that left 27 dead. 

Prisoners from four jails across the country were re-united with their families who had waited for hours outside prison gates, said Anatolia. 

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer was forced to sign the amnesty law on Thursday, after parliament passed it for a second time in defiance of his veto last week. 

Sezer, a jurist by training, returned the law to parliament because he said it violated principles of fairness and justice. 

The amnesty law cuts prison sentences by 10 years for most inmates, including those convicted of murderer, but rapists, counterfeiters, drug traffickers, mafiosi and Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan would not benefit from it. 

Under the law, prison sentences of up to 12 years given for political statements made in the media or at meetings will also be suspended. 

It means that about half of Turkey's 72,000 inmates could be freed. 

The hunger strikers were protesting new jails proposed under the law, where large dormitories of up to 60 people have been replaced with cells that sleep no more than three. 

The prisoners argue the reform makes them vulnerable to mistreatment, but the government insists the measures are aimed at ending overcrowding and the frequent riots that erupt in Turkish jails. 

The amnesty law has met widespread public opposition on the grounds that it will set hundreds of criminals free -- ANKARA (AFP)  

 

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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