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Over 5,000 inmates granted amnesty

More than 5,000 prisoners serving time in three regional states have been granted pardon for the Ethiopian New Year. Meanwhile, President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) has not announced the usual New Year amnesty for those under federal custody until The Reporter went to the press.

Three of the regional states, viz., Amhara, Tigrai and the Southern Regional State (SNNPR) have so far granted a combined 5,037 amnesties in their respective jurisdictions.

The Amhara and Tigray regional states on Thursday granted amnesty for 1,981 and 957 prisoners in connection with the upcoming New Year.

Meanwhile, the Southern Region announced on Wednesday that it had pardoned 3,099 prisoners, including 16 inmates whose sentences had been reduced.

At a presser on Thursday, Gedu Andargachew, chief administrator of the Amhara Regional State, said that, “they were freed because they showed remorse and met the requirements for clemency.”

Though it is common for both federal and regional governments to grant amnesties on the occasion of the Ethiopian New Year, the nation in the just ended year has seen a record number of prisoners due to widespread unrest in the two largest regional states–Oromia and Amhara.

In addition to regular prisoners, more than 31,000 individuals were arrested during the year following the issuance of the state of emergency (SoE) decree.

Earlier in July, Minister Defense Siraj Fegessa, who was the head of SoE Command Post Secretariat, told parliament that a total of 21,109 suspects were arrested in Oromia, Amhara and Southern as well as in Addis Ababa for participating in violent protests, but most of them were later released after receiving renewal training. Meantime, 7, 737 suspects are on trial over charges of committing crimes during the unrest, Siraj noted.