Assad issues amnesty in bid to woo public

June 21, 2011 at 7:17 AM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, June 21 (UPI) -- A day after addressing the public to try to quell anti-government sentiment, Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a general amnesty.

Legislative Decree No. 72 for 2011 grants amnesty for crimes committed before June 20, the state news agency SANA said Tuesday without elaborating.

In a well orchestrated broadcast address from Damascus University Monday, Assad said he planned to ask the Ministry of Justice to introduce more comprehensive amnesty without "undermining state security and interests."

He also said the number of outlaws and wanted individuals sought by the authorities was estimated to be "more than 64,400 people." However, the number dropped to 63,000 after some "turned themselves in to the authorities," Assad said.

While Assad's address was rejected Monday by anti-government protesters who rallied in the streets calling for his downfall, hundreds of thousands of Syrians thronged to public squares and city streets Tuesday to show their support, SANA said.

The agency said more than 1 million crowded Umayyad Square in Damascus and demonstrators gathered in Homs, Aleppo, Sweida, Lattakia, Deraa, Hasaka, Tartous and other cities to support reforms the president said he would carry out.

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