Thailand on Thursday released around 25 000 prisoners from the country's notoriously crowded jails to commemorate the recent birthdays of the queen and crown prince.
“We are giving you a chance to return to society as good people,” Vice Justice Minister Precha Thannanand told a group of 1 500 inmates lined up outside Bangkok's Klong Prem Prison for their royal pardon.
“We hope you will not be back,” he added. The pardoned prisoners were mostly serving short sentences, were elderly or under the age of 25.
The freed prisoners, dressed in blue uniforms and caps, threw their hats in the air upon receiving the pardon, shouting “chaiyo,” the Thai version of “hurrah.”
They were provided 500 baht (16 dollars) each for a bus ticket home.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 84, signed the amnesty to commemorate the recent birthdays of Queen Sirikit, who turned 80 on August 12, and Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who turned 60 on July 28.
Amnesties are often granted to prisoners in Thailand to commemorate royal birthdays. The country's prisons have an estimated 300 000 inmates, far more than their planned capacity.Authors: Somchai Kwankijswet and Peter Janssen - Sapa-dpa