Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer signed Thursday a controversial amnesty law which is expected to empty the country's overcrowded and riot-hit prisons by half, his office said in a statement.
Thursday's approval did not come as a surprise as Sezer had no other option but to okay the law which was passed by parliament for a second time in defiance of his veto last week.
Sezer, who is a jurist by training, returned the law to parliament last Friday because he said it violated principles of equity and justice.
But the deputies passed the law again, without changes, by a vote of 282 to 85 with two abstentions, the private television station NTV reported.
Under Turkish constitution, the president has only a single veto right on the same law although he has the power to turn to the constitutional court to ask that the law be abolished.
The amnesty law, which was first passed on December 8, would cut prison sentences by 10 years for most inmates including murderers.
Rapists, counterfeiters and the 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 would be suspended.
It means that about half of Turkey's 72,000 inmates could be freed.
The government promised to pass an amnesty law after general elections in April 1999 -- ANKARA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)