Chile to pardon 1,300 prisoners to halt coronavirus spread

The jail of Valparaiso in Chile on April 14, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

SANTIAGO, CHILE (AFP) - Around 1,300 prisoners at high risk of contracting coronavirus will be pardoned in Chile after the Constitutional Court approved a special law on Tuesday (April 14) sent by the government of conservative President Sebastian Pinera.

The law will benefit prisoners over 75 years old, mothers of children under two years old and pregnant women, who will be able to serve the rest of their sentences at home.

Prisoners convicted of crimes against humanity and those guilty of homicide, kidnapping, drug trafficking and domestic violence are excluded.

The pardon is intended to ease pressure on the prisons, which, according to a Supreme Court report, are a "time bomb", with some 42,000 inmates.

Among them are nearly a hundred people convicted of human rights violations during Chile's military dictatorship from 1973-1990.

They are serving their sentences - for kidnapping, torture and murder - in the special Punta Peuco prison, a luxury facility on the outskirts of Santiago.

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