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Nigeria Releases 475 Boko Haram Suspects for Rehabilitation


FILE - Boko Haram militants (in camouflage) embrace and shake hands with Boko Haram prisoners, released in exchange for a group of 82 Chibok girls, who were held captive for three years by Islamist militants, near Kumshe, Nigeria, May 6, 2017.

A Nigerian court has released 475 people allegedly affiliated with Boko Haram for rehabilitation, the justice ministry said on Sunday, as the country's biggest legal investigation of the militant Islamist insurgency continues.

The first person convicted for the kidnapping in 2014 of
Chibok schoolgirls, sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment last
week, was also handed an additional 15-year sentence, to run
back-to-back, the justice ministry said in a statement.
More than 20,000 people have been killed and two million
forced to flee their homes in northeastern Nigeria since Boko
Haram began an insurgency in 2009 aimed at creating an Islamic state.

But humanitarian groups have criticized the Nigerian
authorities' handling of those detained for infringing on the
suspects' rights.

Some of those whose cases were heard last week in a
detention center in central Nigeria had been held without trial
since 2010, according to the justice ministry statement.
"The prosecution counsel could not charge them [with] any
offence due to lack of sufficient evidence against them," the
ministry said.

In October, the ministry said 45 people suspected of Boko
Haram links had been convicted and jailed. A further 468
suspects were discharged and 28 suspects were remanded for trial in Abuja or Minna.

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