At least 36 convicted prisoners have been released from jail in Qatar following pardons issued by the Emir during the end of Ramadan.
The pardons – the first to be issued by new Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani – mean shortened jail sentences for prisoners convicted of crimes including theft, driving under the influence of alcohol, sexual abuse, homosexuality, assault and rape, according to the Peninsula.
Qatar News Agency announced the pardons had been made two weeks ago, but gave no further details about the number, or the nationalities of the people involved.
It’s customary for the Emir to pardon prisoners at the end of Ramadan and on National Day. Last year, for example, 60 prisoners were pardoned as part of National Day celebrations.
Who is freed
Although a full list of those pardoned has not been released, some details have begun to emerge.
Notably, the Qatari poet who was convicted last November of “inciting to overthrow the regime” and “insulting the Emir” was not pardoned, despite hope from his family that he would be.
Ibn Al Dheeb was originally sentenced to life in prison, but on appeal, that sentence was reduced to 15 years in jail. His lawyer, former justice minister Najib Al-Nuaimi, has lodged a further appeal to that sentence and said he suspects the poet was not pardoned because his case is still active.
Al-Nuaimi added to Doha News that he knew of two Qataris who received pardons this year.
Meanwhile, the Philippines Embassy sent a dozen names of prisoners to the Emir for consideration, but they have not yet released information about whether these requests were successful.
At least one prisoner recommended for pardon is serving a long jail sentence for murder. Philippines Embassy officials were not available for comment today.
The US Embassy declined to comment, and officials from the embassies of Bangladesh, Singapore and the UK were unavailable due to the Eid holiday.
The Indian Embassy says that the 17 pardoned Indian nationals had been serving sentences between six months and five years, for offences ranging from signing cheques which later bounced, to theft and rape.
There were a total of 48 Indians, including two women, in the central prison before the pardons were given.
There are also 192 Indian nationals – 24 of them are women – detained at the deportation center, the Indian Embassy says.
People subject to deportation orders are held at the center until their paperwork is completed, and they find the money for their air fare home.
The Indian Community Benevolent Forum helped 60 people pay for their flights in the first few months of this year, the Indian Embassy has said.
Credit: Photo by David Locke