Cuba's government has pardoned 3,522 prisoners — the most since the 1959 revolution — as a gesture of goodwill ahead of Pope Francis's visit to the communist island, the official daily Granma said.

Among those pardoned are people over 60 years old, younger than 20 with no criminal record, the chronically ill, women and foreigners — provided their country of origin vows to repatriate them, the newspaper said.

The decision is due to be effective within 72 hours.

"On the occasion of the visit by His Holiness Pope Francis, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba [the highest governmental body]... agreed to pardon 3,522 prisoners chosen due by the nature of the acts for which they were jailed, their behaviour in prison, the time of punishment and health concerns," Granma said...



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