Nearly all the prisoners at the Corradino prison facilities benefited from the presidential pardon granted on the recommendation of former home affairs minister Manuel Mallia when Labour was elected to power in 2013.

Information provided to Parliament shows that a total of 606 prison inmates, from a population at the time of 614, had their sentences reduced following former president George Abela’s pardon.

The figure was provided by Minister Carmelo Abela – who succeeded Dr Mallia after the latter was fired last year – in reply to a parliamentary question by PN spokesman Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici.

The pardon – 100 days for each prisoner, with some exceptions – resulted in a total of 164 prison years being shaved off the inmates’ sentences.

The only cases which were excluded from the amnesty were prisoners with convictions of rape or the abuse, kidnap or abandonment of minors.

However, sentences connected to drug trafficking, murder, pornography or violence against the elderly benefited from the amnesty in full.

The presidential pardon was announced by Dr Mallia less than three months after Labour’s March 2013 electoral victory, during a visit to the correctional facilities.

During that meeting, Dr Mallia, who had practised criminal law previously, was given a hero’s welcome by the inmates, who chanted “Tagħna Lkoll”, Labour’s electoral slogan.

He later denied that the pardon had been a pre-electoral promise to the inmates and their families.

According to prison records, despite the exceptions, the pardon benefited nearly all inmates at the time.

As a result of President George Abela’s decree following a Cabinet decision, 54 inmates left prison in the same week that the pardon was granted and another 143 were released by the end of 2013.

Amnesties to mark a change in government were granted in 1987 (by the PN government) and in 1996 (by Labour).

No amnesties were given following the 1998, 2003 and 2008 elections.

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