More than 2,500 prisoners have been released from jails across the Kingdom following an amnesty declared by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Thursday. Disclosing this figure, Maj. Abdullah Al-Harbi, spokesman for the Department of Prisons, said the committees appointed for the purpose of selecting prisoners qualifying for release in different regions are working around the clock to implement the amnesty. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, second deputy premier and interior minister, has instructed law-enforcement authorities to release public rights prisoners on the basis of certain conditions.
Prisoners held for 14 types of crimes such as murder, drug smuggling, crimes related to weapons and bombs, and money laundering would not benefit from the amnesty. Other crimes that are not covered by amnesty are rape, kidnapping and highway robbery, opening fire at security officers, armed robbery, crimes that affect state security, forging Saudi currency or stamps of government, banks, signatures of officials and legal documents issued by courts or notaries. On the basis of Prince Mohammed’s instruction, prisoners held for public rights as well as those who have not committed major crimes would be released and their fines up to SR500,000 written off and lashes would not be carried out.
Brig. Ahmed Al-Shahrani, director of prisons in Jeddah, said he was closely monitoring the measures taken for the release of prisoners qualified for the amnesty. Al-Shahrani met with some of the released prisoners and told them to become good citizens, keeping away from crimes and engaging in constructive activities. The prisoners, who have benefited from the amnesty, thanked King Salman as well as the prison authorities. “We have benefited a lot from the department’s cultural and vocational programs,” one Saudi said, adding that the programs also contributed to changing the mindset of prisoners.