Tehran sends home 70,000 prisoners to mitigate coronavirus outbreak

Monday, March 9, 2020
By Paul Martin

9 Mar, 2020

Iran’s top judge said around 70,000 people across the country have been granted temporary leave from prisons. The measure is meant to curb the spread of coronavirus infections in the struggling country.
Speaking to a judicial council on Monday, Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi said Iranian courts have identified 70,000 people eligible for furlough, Tasnim News Agency reported. The number of vetted inmates announced last week was 52,000.

The furlough is meant to decrease the health risk in prisons as the country is struggling to tackle an outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic. The Iranian authorities said they will not be releasing dangerous criminals and that some people will have to pay bail before they can be temporary freed. Raisi said the courts prioritized cases of people who have underlying conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus when processing the lists.

Iran is among the nations hit hardest by the disease, with over 6,500 confirmed cases as of Sunday. Tehran’s ability to respond to the epidemic is undermined by US economic sanctions, which prevent it from buying many of the needed supplies on the international markets.

The World Health Organization sent representatives to Iran last week to help its national health authorities tackle the outbreak.

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