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Chile to pardon 1,300 prisoners to halt coronavirus spread

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Sanitation workers disinfect a community building as a preventive measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Santiago, on April 13, 2020. – The novel coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than swine flu, which caused a global pandemic in 2009, the World Health Organization said Monday, stressing a vaccine would be necessary to fully halt transmission. (Photo by Javier TORRES / AFP)

Around 1,300 prisoners at high risk of contracting coronavirus will be pardoned in Chile after the Constitutional Court approved a special law on Tuesday sent by the government of conservative President Sebastian Pinera.

The law will benefit prisoners over 75 years old, mothers, of children under two years old and pregnant women, who will be able to serve the rest of their sentences at home.

Prisoners convicted of crimes against humanity and those guilty of homicide, kidnapping, drug trafficking and domestic violence are excluded.

The pardon is intended to ease pressure on the prisons, which, according to a Supreme Court report, are a “time bomb” with some 42,000 inmates.

Among them are nearly a hundred people convicted of human rights violations during Chile’s military dictatorship from 1973-1990.

They are serving their sentences — for kidnapping, torture and murder — in the special Punta Peuco prison, a luxury facility on the outskirts of Santiago.

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