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Cuba pardons 3,522 prisoners ahead of Pope's visit

2015-09-11

The Cuban Council of State will pardon more than 3,500 prisoners ahead of Pope Francis' visit to the island nation, according to Cuba's state run news agency, Granma.

The Cuban government pardoned 200 prisoners ahead of Pope John Paul II's 1998 trip. Another 400 were pardoned when Pope Benedict XVI came in 2012.

Many of those being released are over 60-years-old, under 20-years-old, chronically ill, women, and those set for parole in 2016. Some foreigners may also be freed.

With a few exceptions for humanitarian reasons, most of the prisoners granted pardons did not commit crimes such as robbery, slaughter of cattle, or murder.

The decision will take effect within three days, and the government will work with other governments to coordinate the release of foreign prisoners.

It is likely that other concessions will come from Pope Francis' visit to Cuba. 

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