China approves prisoner amnesty to mark WWII anniversary

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BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a prisoner amnesty as part of commemorations of World War II's end that could see thousands of inmates, including war veterans and juveniles, released.

The signing on Saturday was the same day China's legislature approved it.

The official Xinhua News Agency said it would free several thousand prisoners by the end of this year, but that the exact number won't be known until provincial courts have finished reviewing sentences.

Those eligible included veterans of World War II, the Chinese civil war that ended with the Communist victory in 1949, and subsequent conflicts such as the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Prisoners over age 75 or below age 18 who were sentenced to three years or less will also be included, along with those who are very ill or unable to care for themselves.

The amnesty does not include repeat offenders and those convicted of serious crimes including embezzlement, bribes, terrorism, organized crime, murder, rape and drug offenses.

It's the eighth amnesty under the ruling Communist Party since 1949. Beneficiaries of previous amnesties have included political prisoners, including the last Qing Dynasty Emperor Puyi, who was imprisoned as a Japanese collaborator.

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