Indonesia releases prisoners to commemorate Independence Day

August 17th, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Jakarta, Aug 17 (DPA) Indonesia marked its Independence Day Sunday with reduction of jail sentences for tens of thousands of prisoners, including convicted Australian drug traffickers. More than 55,000 prisoners who have completed at least one-third of their sentences were granted reductions ranging from several weeks or months.

At least 5,700 inmates will walk free, said Untung Sugiyono, director-general of correctional institutions at the justice ministry.

A three-month jail reduction was granted in the 20-year sentence imposed on Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby, the second time authorities had cut the 31-year-old’s sentence after it was reduced by three months in 2006.

Corby is now expected to be freed by April 12, 2024, said Yon Suharyono, the head of the Kerobokan penitentiary on Bali Island, where Corby is being held.

Renae Lawrence, the only female member of the so-called “Bali Nine” ring of Australian heroin traffickers, also received a four-month cut from her 20-year sentence, Suharyono said.

But for the first time this year, those convicted of terrorism, illegal logging and corruption will not get sentence reductions.

In his annual state of the union Friday, President Yudhoyono said that his government was strongly committed to fighting corruption, terrorism and drugs. He also warned that terrorism remained a threat to the country despite various achievements in combating such attacks.

“The security apparatus has managed to arrest, prosecute and sentence the perpetrators but we must continue to heighten our vigilance,” Yudhoyono said.

Indonesia achieved independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1945.

The day’s celebrations included the popular “Panjat Pinang”, where competitors struggle to climb to the top of a greased betel nut palm trunk. The prizes ranged from plastic buckets to a new motorcycle.
DPA

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