16 November 2016, The Tablet

Cuban leader Raul Castro frees 787 prisoners after Pope Francis plea for Year of Mercy

Cuba has pardoned 787 prisoners in response to Pope Francis' plea to all world leaders to offer clemency to prisoners as part of the Year of Mercy.

Women, younger male prisoners, prisoners who are sick are among the prisoners who have been granted a reprieve, according to Granma newspaper which is the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the ruling Cuban Communist Party.

While details of the crimes committed by the prisoners have not been published, Granma confirmed that prisoners convicted of "extremely dangerous" crimes like murder, rape, child abuse and drug trafficking were not eligible to receive a pardon.

It was also confirmed that the Council of State, which is headed by President Raul Castro, had issued the pardons "in response to the call by Pope Francis to heads of state in the Holy Year of Mercy".

“We're very happy with this decision by the Cuban state," said Archbishop Dionisio Garcia, president of the Cuban Bishops' Conference.

In September last year, Cuba pardoned 3,522 prisoners ahead of a visit by Pope Francis to the Caribbean state in what it says was a humanitarian gesture: a, repeating similar actions it took before two previous papal visits.



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