Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Almost 500 people released under amnesty law

The press office of the Belarusian interior ministry reported on Tuesday that as many as 491 people had been released from prison by August 6 under this years amnesty program.

According to the interior ministry, a total of 15,032 prisoners were eligible for amnesty under the amnesty law enacted last month on the occasion of Independence Day (July 3).

The press office said that applying the amnesty had already been considered with regard to a total of 2,850 convicts, with 1,475 of them being denied amnesty and 884 having their prison sentences reduced by one year.

Also eligible for amnesty were more than 8,000 people serving non-custodial sentences. The press office reported that as of August 6, 661 of them had been exempted from their sentences and 182 had had their sentences shortened by one year.

The amnesty law stipulates that no amnesty may be granted to people convicted on charges of, among other, organizing and participating in mass disorder, organizing and preparing actions that are in gross violation of public order or active participation in them, defaming the head of state and violating mass event rules. That means that Alyaksandr Lukashenka`s political opponents are unlikely to be freed under the law.

This has been the 10th amnesty campaign in the country since 1994. The previous amnesty campaign was conducted in 2010, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Soviet Unions victory over Nazi Germany in the 1941-45 Great Patriotic War. As many as 3,300 people were then released from correctional institutions and almost 9,000 people had their prison sentences reduced by one year, according to the interior ministry. The ministry says that up to 10 percent of the people released under an amnesty relapse into crime.
Belarus prison population is reported to be some 60,000 people.