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Azerbaijan Releases Political Prisoners


Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has pardoned 114 prisoners, including 53 listed as political prisoners by the Council of Europe.

Government officials in Baku Sunday said some of those pardoned were involved in organizing riots and coup attempts in 1994 and 1995.

Most notable among those given amnesty is former Azeri Defense Minister Rahim Haziev, who was sentenced for high treason in 1995.

The large-scale amnesty comes less than one week after Council of Europe representative Malcolm Bruce called on Azerbaijani officials to release seven imprisoned opposition leaders before this year's parliamentary elections.

Mr. Bruce warned Azerbaijan that the 46-nation democracy watchdog group would examine its relationship with the oil-rich Caspian nation if it did not release the political prisoners.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.

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