Almost 800 prisoners have been pardoned in Cuba in response to a call from Pope Francis for world leaders to consider granting inmates amnesty.
In a front-page statement in the state-run newspaper, Granma, officials announced that 787 inmates, including women, young people and the sick, would get their freedom.
The statement indicated that the crimes for which the inmates were serving time, their conduct while fulfilling their sentences, and the time already served were taken into consideration in deciding who would go free. Prisoners convicted of murder, homicide, corrupting minors, rape, drug trafficking and other “extremely dangerous” crimes were excluded.
Cuba’s Council of State, which is led by President Raul Castro, issued the pardons “in response to the call by Pope Francis to heads of state in the Holy Year of Mercy”. Last December, in declaring the year of the Jubilee, Pope Francis called on world leaders to improve prison conditions for inmates and consider granting them amnesty.
Cuba released 3,522 prisoners in September last year, ahead of a visit by the Pope, as “a goodwill gesture”.