The Comorian President Azali Assoumani on Wednesday pardoned 17 jailed opposition figures a day after taking office.
Among those freed in the presidential decree include Hassane Ahmed el-Barwane, Secretary General of the main Juwa opposition party.
He was serving 7 years in prison for assaulting a soldier.
“Among them, there were those who were sentenced to life imprisonment. Their sentences were reduced to 20 years of imprisonment. For the others, their sentences ranged from 15, 10, 15, 20 years. They were totally pardoned but the pardon measures do not concern those who were judged in absentia”, said Comorian presidential spokesperson, Mohamed Ismail.
Those whose life sentences were reduced to 20 years include, writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui and Bahassane Ahmed Said, brother of former vice president Djaffar Ahmed Said, who sought refuge in France.
Fahardine Mohamed is lawyer for the journalists freed.
“We will give opinions later, now we are just happy and we share it with you journalists. It is a joy to you especially and we’ll tell you all we have to say in the coming days. For today, we have no comments,” he said.
All those pardoned were jailed for up to 20 years on charges linked to unrest following a controversial constitutional referendum to extend the president’s term last year.
Azali took the oath of office on Sunday, two months after his controversial re-election. He pledged “appeasement measures” to quell accusations of election fraud.