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Iraqi prisoner release plans could free 50,000 by end 2008

[JURIST] Some 50,000 detainees held by Iraqi and US authorities in Iraqi could be freed by the end of 2008, an Iraqi official said Sunday. Iraqi national security advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaei said that 24,000 detainees held in facilities run by the Iraqi defense, interior and justice ministries could be freed under what appears to be an extended version of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Pardon and Safety plan, originally described as providing for the release of convicted detainees [JURIST report]. The plan would have to approved by cabinet and parliament. Another plan being worked out with US-led multinational forces could see the release of another 26,000 Iraqis. The mass releases are seen by the government as critical to its national reconciliation efforts between Shi'ite and Sunni factions; the vast majority of the detainees are Sunni.

Earlier this year, the country's largest Sunni parliamentary bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front [BBC backgrounder], boycotted major government meetings in response to al-Maliki's failure to respond to demands [JURIST report] that included pardons for uncharged security detainees. In October, Iraqi Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi urged fellow Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi and President Jalal Talabani to press the Iraqi parliament to pardon detainees [JURIST report] not classified as "dangerous elements" linked to the insurgency. Reuters has more. IANS has additional coverage.

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