Libya releases 466 prisoners over COVID-19 fears

FILE PHOTO: Members of Red Crescent spray disinfectants, as part of precautionary measures against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at government offices in Misrata, Libya March 21, 2020. REUTERS/Ayman Al-Sahili

The UN-backed Libyan government on Saturday released 466 prisoners due to the fears about the spread of COVID-19.

“As part of the plan to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and to implement the recommendations of the Higher Judicial Council and the Ministry of Justice to reduce prison overcrowding, the public prosecution issued a decision to release 466 inmates from correction and rehabilitation institutions of the Judicial Police in Tripoli,” the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

The released prisoners included pretrial detainees pending investigation, as well as those who meet the rules for conditional release, the statement said.

The ministry also said it planned to release more prisoners in the future, including those who have spent more than half their sentences, the elderly, and those with special health considerations.

A few days ago, Libya announced the first case of COVID-19 infection in the country, a 73-year-old man who returned from Saudi Arabia.

The UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj recently declared a state of emergency and mobilization against the virus.

The government also took measures against the coronavirus, such as closing airports, border crossings, education institutions and mosques, banning large gatherings, and imposing a curfew.