Khalifa orders release of prisoners held for debt

The President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, has ordered the release of 263 Emirati and expatriate inmates and that their debts be paid off.

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ABU DHABI // Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, has ordered the release of 263 Emirati and expatriate inmates and that their debts be paid off, according to WAM, the state news agency. In addition, the Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council will find jobs for the released Emiratis, while expatriates are to be deported. WAM said the move was part of Sheikh Khalifa's "interest in granting the inmates the opportunity to have a new start and mitigate the suffering of their families". The total value of the inmates' debts was not disclosed and it was not clear whether there was a specific occasion to mark their release. The Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution has started procedures to release the inmates. The release of inmates is a common occurrence in the UAE. Every prison is required to put forward a list of prisoners it feels should be released for good behaviour or because they are nearing the end of their sentences. In March 2009, a total of 329 inmates who were jailed for unpaid debts were released from Abu Dhabi's prisons. Sheikh Khalifa announced he would pay the outstanding amount owed of Dh3 million (US$817,000). * WAM