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Thailand's king to pardon 150,000 inmates

The pardon is an opportunity for King Maha Vajiralongkorn to show mercy, the royal family said in a statement.

By Ed Adamczyk
Thailand's king to pardon 150,000 inmates
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn announced a decree pardoning about 150,000 people incarcerated in Thai jails. A statement by trhe royal family called the decree an opportunity for the newly installed king to show mercy. File Photo by Rungroj Yongrit/European Pressphoto Agency

BANGKOK, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Thailand's new king will pardon as many as 150,000 people in jails, including those incarcerated for insulting the royal family, officials said.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who assumed the throne after the October death of his father, Bhumibol Adulyadej, will allow the release or commutation of sentences of prisoners on a case-by-case basis, state officials announced. Age, behavior and length of sentence will be factors considered for release. Those convicted of violating Section 112 of Thailand's Criminal Code, which calls for sentences of up to 15 years for insulting the royal family, will be eligible for consideration. Thousands of people were arrested for insults after the 2014 coup of the Thai government. One man received a 60-year jail sentence.

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The pardon was announced Saturday and {link:implementation began Tuesday. : "http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1157937/chuvit-set-for-release-under-royal-pardon" target="_blank"} "This is the first opportunity since his majesty's ascension to show his mercy," the royal family said in a statement. "This will provide a chance for these individuals to behave as good citizens."

Corrections Department chief Kobkiat Kasiwat said a panel has been set up at each prison to investigate qualifications for a pardon. "Those who qualify are first-time prisoners. Repeat offenders, rapists, fraudsters or drug traffickers do not," he said.

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Thailand's Department for Corrections reported in July that 321,347 people were incarcerated in the country's jails. Most were convicted of minor drug offenses. The royal pardon will impact about half the country's jailed population.

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