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Sri Lankan president pardons 588 prisoners on 75th Independence Day

Colombo, Feb 3 (IANS) Sri Lanka will release 588 prisoners on Saturday on presidential amnesty to mark the country’s 75th Independence Day, a senior official said on Friday.

Commissioner of the Department of Prisons, Chandana Ekanayake, said 557 of them are those rehabilitated by courts on drug-related offences, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said 31 inmates, who were jailed for other offenses but deemed to have displayed good behavior during their imprisonment, will be released too.

The presidential amnesty was granted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under the powers vested on him under Article 34 of the country’s constitution.

The amnesty does not apply to those convicted of murder, serious drug offences, rape and armed robbery, Ekanayake said.

Sri Lanka gave amnesty to 197 prisoners on its Independence Day last year.

Sri Lanka got its independence from British rule on Feb. 4 of 1948.