Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh declared on Tuesday a general amnesty which they said will lead to the early release of about 20 percent of the territory’s prison population.
The Karabakh parliament approved a corresponding bill put forward by Bako Sahakian, the unrecognized republic’s president.
Officials in Stepanakert refused to specify how many convicts will be set free as a result of the amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan. The total number of persons serving prison sentences in Karabakh is also not known.
The bill stipulates that the amnesty will not apply to individuals convicted of murder, rape, robberies and other grave crimes. It will mainly affect those sentenced to up to three years’ imprisonment or underage convicts.
Other prisoners serving longer sentences can have their jail terms cut by at least one-third if they participated in the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan or are related to individuals killed in the fighting.
Speaking in the parliament, Sahakian’s chief legal aide, Ara Lazarian, said the amnesty will also require local law-enforcement bodies to close at least 60 percent of pending criminal cases that have not yet been sent to courts and to free relevant criminal suspects. The cases relate to non-grave crimes committed before August 1.
Armenia’s president and parliament likewise declared a general amnesty in May. At least 400 persons have been released from jail since then.