THAILAND. GOVERNMENT TO FREE 25,000 PRISONERS
June 8, 2006: Thailand was to release 25,000 prisoners across the country on June 9 in an amnesty to celebrate the King Bhumibol Adulyadejâs 60th anniversary on the throne, officials said. Thai authorities often grant royal pardons on important national occasions to relieve pressure on the dangerously overcrowded jails.
"A total of 25,000 prisoners will be released by royal pardon to commemorate the king's anniversary," Nathee Chitsawang, director of the Department of Corrections, said. The prisoners to be released were generally ageing, sick or nearing the end of their jail terms, he said. Additionally, some prisoners on death row would have their sentences commuted to life in prison, while other prisoners were due to have their jail terms reduced, he added.
Prison authorities were due to hold a ceremony at a maximum security prison in the capital Bangkok, where more than 1,600 inmates were scheduled to be freed. About 163,000 inmates were currently held across the country in facilities designed for just 100,000. Another 523 teenagers were to be released from the juvenile detention system. Thailand's biggest-ever amnesty was in 1987, when 37,400 inmates were freed in honour of King Bhumibol's 60th birthday. (Sources: Agence France-Presse, 08/06/2006)