MOROCCO. KING PARDONS 10,000 PRISONERS
November 18, 2005: King Mohammed of Morocco pardoned or reduced the prison sentences of 10,000 people to mark the 50th anniversary of independence, Justice Ministry officials said. It was the largest ever number of prisoners involved in a royal pardon, which was customary in the North African kingdom to mark national and religious holidays. Local media said the widely expected move was also aimed at relieving the country's overcrowded prisons. A total of 5000 prisoners would be released immediately and a further 5000 would have their sentences reduced. They included 336 foreigners and 25 detainees who had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment. A senior ministry official said there were no Islamic militants jailed on terrorism charges among those pardoned. He had no details on the nationalities of foreigners affected.
"The list is drafted by the royal palace, it did not include any Islamists this time," he said. Morocco's prisons are often criticised by local human rights groups over their desperate conditions, with 60,000 people held in a system designed for half that number. (Sources: Daily Telegraph, 18/11/2005)