Bangladeshi jails being vacated for new prisoners
Mar 20, 2007 - 7:12:46 PM
Dhaka, March 20 - The interim government in Bangladesh has decided to set free nearly 4,500 prisoners to make room for new detainees in overcrowded jails across the country, officials said Tuesday.
Sources in the home affairs ministry said the prisoners would be released from jails and detention centres in the country under a general amnesty marking the 36th anniversary of Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan, to be celebrated next week.
Keeping an eye on the increasing number of new prisoners, jail officials cut short the duration of sentences and also reduced periods of detention for interrogation for many senior prison inmates.
More than 1,000 people are arrested daily by security forces for crimes ranging from picking pockets to extortion. Only half that number of detainees are booked for detailed probes and possible trial on mainly corruption charges.
'It is customary to free between 300 and 400 prisoners to mark such occasions as national days but this time we are setting free more people than ever before,' said Zakir Hasan, the inspector general of prisons.
He said the government prepared a list of over 4,300 convicts who were serving time for petty crimes. Also on the list are low-level political activists, muggers and roughnecks.
The empty cells are likely to accommodate the new prisoners detained for corruption and other financial crimes. These criminals include loan defaulters and tax dodgers.
Prison wardens said the existing jails have been housing three times their total capacities.
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