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4 prisoners are released in amnesty

Updated: 2015-09-09 08:03
By Qi Xin in Zhengzhou and Cao Yin in Beijing (China Daily)

Official says move is 'just a beginning'; convicts who committed serious crimes will not be freed

Four inmates were released on Tuesday under a special amnesty granted by China's top legislature.

On Tuesday morning, three prisoners in Central China's Henan province were set free under the amnesty, which was proposed by President Xi Jinping in August to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

Deng Li, an officer in the provincial prison management bureau, confirmed the release.

"We'll make sure those who are granted freedom meet the qualifications of the amnesty to avoid any mistakes during the implementation," Deng said.

"The three released on Tuesday are just a beginning, and our future work must be as strict," he said.

Deng did not estimate how many inmates will be released in the province.

One of the three prisoners, Fan Mingli, 85, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for fraud and forging military documents in 2006, was released from prison at 10:30 am on Tuesday, and he could not stop smiling.

Fan participated in the war when he was young. Under the amnesty, prisoners who took part in the war and the Chinese War of Liberation (1946-49) before committing crimes can be released.

But people who are guilty of serious crimes like terrorism, bribery and corruption are excluded, as are repeat offenders and principal criminals involved in gang-related offenses.

Also on Tuesday, Zhang Baisen, 84, of Guangdong province, who was given a life sentence in prison for accepting 1.8 million yuan ($283,000) in bribes in 2001, was also set free, Yangcheng Evening News reported.

Inmates who are older than 75, with serious physical disabilities and are unable to live on their own are also expected to be granted amnesty.

In addition, prisoners who committed crimes when they were under 18 and received a maximum sentence of three years in jail, or minors whose prison terms are less than a year, can be also set free by the amnesty.

But those convicted of serious violent crimes, such as homicide, rape and intentional injury are excluded.

Since 1949, special amnesty has been granted seven times, often before major anniversaries or important ceremonies or conferences.

The latest move is part of the central government's push in 2013 to fully enforce the rule of law and implement and respect the Constitution, according to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top lawmakers.

When the special amnesty was adopted at the end of August, judicial academics expressed their approval.

"The amnesty is good for our country to build an open, democratic and civilized legal image," said Gao Mingxuan, a leading criminal law professor at Beijing Normal University.

"The release for the very old and very young prisoners also represents our protection of human rights, as well as an effective way to enforce the principle of tempering justice with mercy under the criminal law," Gao said.

Contact the writers at qixin@chinadaily.com.cn and caoyin@chinadaily.com.cn

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