published: 04.01.2013, 18:45 | updated: 04.01.2013 18:52:57
Prague - The amnesty that Czech President Vaclav Klaus declared on January 1 will cover more than 32,000 people, according to the current estimates, Justice Ministry spokeswoman Stepanka Cechova told CTK today.
Besides the released prisoners, persons in house arrest and those sentenced to community work, the amnesty also relates to some 14,500 people with suspended sentences who are supervised by a probation and mediation service clerk.
Klaus granted the amnesty on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of establishment of the Czech Republic, following the split of Czechoslovakia.
The amnesty pardons some prisoners as well as people given suspended sentences and halts criminal prosecution that continued for minimally eight years.
Critics from across the political spectrum say this will also cover some corruption and fraud cases.
The prison service said on its web page that 5232 prisoners were released by 15:00 today.
The Justice Ministry first estimated the amnesty will relate to 7416 convicts.
Deputy Justice Minister Daniel Volak explained the difference of more than 2000 people between the ministry´s estimate and the number of released prisoners.
He said the preliminary calculations included prisoners who do fulfil the amnesty conditions, but who are serving other prison sentences at the same time. These people will stay behind bars.
The ministry said the amnesty will also include some 12,2000 people sentenced to community work and 330 persons serving house arrest.
The amnesty also covers suspended sentences not exceeding two years. Suspended sentences with supervision relate to some 14,500 persons.
"We will only know the precise figures after courts make a decisions on every particular convict and on every individual case," the ministry said.
The prison service said citizens of 25 countries are among the released prisoners.
"Unlike the original expectation, the released also include persons who were taken into custody," Cechova said.
The released prisoner who is without financial means receives some money to get home, possibly also to buy food and clothing.
Prison service director general Petr Dohnal said previously he estimates the total sum to be spent on these purposes to be in the order of hundreds of thousands of crowns.
The prison service said today it will subsequently exact the money provided for the travel expenses.
The released are mainly perpetrators of less severe acts, such as petty property crime and maintenance dodgers.
Alena Maresova, research worker of the Criminology and Social Prevention Institute, said today she expects about a half of the released prisoners to return behind bars as repeat criminals.
Pavel Stern, head of the Probation and Mediation Service, said this usually applies to 55 to 60 percent in case of property crime.
He said the repeat crimes are usually committed in the first six to 12 months after release.
The punishments of the people granted an amnesty will be deleted from their criminal records that they submit to their new employers.
They will be preserved in the broader copy of the criminal record that is accessible to law enforcement bodies.
The police have as yet dealt with only rare incidents caused by the released prisoners.
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