Oromia regional state pardoned 10,000 inmates who have been serving prison terms in the thirty six prions across the region.They will be released starting tomorrow, reported Eskindir Firew, VOA Amharic journalist based in Addis Ababa.
According to the report, Lema Megeresa, president of Oromia regional state, exercised power vested on him by the constitution of the regional government.
Prisoners will be released based on criteria developed by the regional state and only if they demonstrated regret during served terms for the crimes they committed.
Inmates who were sentenced to life in prison and who have served thirteen or more years ,and those who have been sentenced to prison terms anywhere between six months to twenty five years with no parole and who have served one-third of the prison term were considered, by the pardon board, for the pardon. Disability , parenthood (inmates who have children), age (more than sixty years) and terminal illness are among the criteria used to screen inmates for the pardon by the committee.
Additional criteria, and this sounds very political, is the potential of inmates to be a “force for development”- which implies that they will serve the system in some form.
Beyene Petros, Chairman of Medrek – a coalition of opposition parties styled after the ruling coalition – remarked that the release of prisoners is “constructive” but government should release members of opposition parties and leaders who are arrested on grounds of their political convictions. However, Addisu Arega, spokes person of Oromia regional state denied that there no political prisoners who are arrested because of their political opinion, the report by VOA added.
The spokes person also stated that the pardon has nothing to do with current affairs within the country and is just a regular annual practice within the regional government.
On the other hand, Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) cited The Associated press, which in turn cited Oromo opposition figure, to report that an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 new arrests in Oromia region in the last few months alone.
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