Tue, 19 Aug 2003

5,000 inmates freed on Independence Day

The Jakarta Post, Bogor, West Java

Independence Day was certainly liberating for some inmates of the country's prisons. Over 5,000 of them were granted the remission of their sentences, and set free on Sunday, in line with celebrations.

The Minister for Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, said 5,175 inmates ended their prison terms upon receiving the remission. But, a total of 43,475 inmates throughout the country were granted remission by President Megawati Soekarnoputri. The remaining 38,300 inmates will still have to serve the rest of their sentences, the minister said.

"The remissions are expected to make all -- especially the prisoners -- appreciate the freedom of every individual," he told reporters after the remission-granting ceremony in Paledang prison in Bogor, West Java.

Presently, there are 85,149 inmates in correctional centers across the country.

Convicts who show good conduct while serving their sentences may be granted a remission, on one of two occasions each year. One on independence day, and the other on either (religious holiday), Idul Fitri or Christmas.

Among the recipients of the remission are timber tycoon Mohamad "Bob" Hasan, and former president Soeharto's son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, who are imprisoned in Nusakambangan prison-island.

Hasan's jail sentence is cut by seven months and 20 days, while Tommy's by four months and 15 days.

The remission, however, eludes the "smiling bomber" Amrozi, who was recently sentenced to death by the Denpasar District Court for his complicity in the deadly Bali blast.

An official said that a person who has just been sentenced to death is not entitled to be granted remission, but he or she could ask for a Presidential clemency as a last resort.