Algerian President pardons 6,778 prisoners

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Tuesday pardoned 6,778 prisoners, marking the 51st anniversary of the start of the country's eight-year war of independence with France and the end of Ramadan, his office said. Partial pardons also were being accorded to other prisoners, the president's office said.

Those able to benefit from the full pardon had six months or less of their sentences remaining. Partial pardons shortening sentences by 7 to 11 months were accorded to other prisoners.

The pardons coincide with the 51st anniversary of Algeria's independence war with France on Nov. 1, 1954, and the start here of Eid El-Fitr to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The measures are part of the president's efforts to "promote and strengthen the values of solidarity, assistance and forgiveness," a statement from the president's office said.

The pardons were a prelude to broader measures expected to be announced as this North African nation moves forward with its Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation designed to mend a society fractured by more than a dozen years of Islamic insurgency.

Measures to allow remaining insurgents to lay down their arms and return to society were being worked out and are to go before parliament, according to the AP.

The charter, approved overwhelmingly in a Sept. 29 referendum, also calls for dropping charges against insurgents' suspected accomplices, jailed or in hiding, as well as special compensation for those who have suffered, like the families of thousands of people who disappeared, allegedly at the hands of security forces.

Officials have estimated the number of insurgents still at large at 800 to 1,000. Some 150,000 people have died in the insurgency, Bouteflika has said. The violence was triggered by an army decision to cancel the January 1992 second round of legislative elections to thwart a likely victory by the now-banned Islamic Salvation Front.


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