Iranian president grants extra month to prisoners on leave

Iranian president grants extra month to prisoners on leave
Hassan Rouhani announced the 100,000 prisoners on leave will be granted an extra month as part of measures to control the spread of coronavirus.
2 min read
19 April, 2020
President Rouhani announced the extension ahead of confirmation from the judiciary [Getty]

Iran will extend leave for prisoners for one more month, President Hassan Rouhani announced on Sunday, after the country temporarily released 100,000 detainees to combat the spread of coronavirus.

"Prisoners' leave was supposed to continue until the end of Farvardin (April 19) ... it will be extended until the end of Ordibehesht (May 20)," Rouhani said during a televised meeting of the government's coronavirus taskforce.

However, he said the judiciary would be the main authority on the matter.

The extension is thought to include that of British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose family said they were waiting to find out whether she must return to Evin prison on Sunday.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili did not directly confirm Rouhani's remarks but further leniency was anticipated.

"By utilising the full extent of the leniency the law allows, we expect a significant number of prisoners on leave not to go back, and even for many of those currently detained to be released," Esmaili was quoted as saying by judiciary's news agency Mizan Online.

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A final decision will be made on April 29, he added.

Iran's judiciary began progressively granting detainees furlough in March, with 100,000 prisoners now on temporary leave.

It also announced last month that 10,000 prisoners would be released in an Iranian New Year amnesty.

The move aimed to "reduce the number of prisoners in light of the sensitive situation in the country," Esmaili said at the time, making no explicit reference to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Islamic republic has been struggling to contain what is the Middle East's deadliest outbreak of the novel coronavirus since reporting its first cases on February 19.

The government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay at home to contain the spread of the virus.

It has shut schools and universities, postponed major events and imposed a range of other restrictions.

On Saturday, Iran allowed some shuttered businesses in the capital Tehran to reopen, after approving similar measures in other provinces last week. 

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