The government set 18 Prey Sar Prison inmates free yesterday as part of a plan to release or commute the sentences of 299 well-behaved prisoners across the country this week.
It is the last of three annual reprieves the Interior Ministry regularly grants in an effort to encourage good behavior among inmates.
During a ceremony at Prey Sar yesterday, the deputy director-general of the ministry’s prisons department, Liv Mauv, said only inmates convicted of relatively minor crimes were eligible for release, and only after serving two-thirds of their sentences.
“Those who commit serious crimes cannot ask to be released but can ask to have their sentences shortened after serving one third of their term,” he added.
At Prey Sar, one prisoner had his term cut by 12 months, six prisoners by nine months, and 32 prisoners by six.
Mr Mauv said the prisoners should serve as a model for others.
“This is an example for other prisoners to follow, then you will have the same. You have to commit to learning and readjusting yourselves,” he said.
Mr Mauv also expressed his hopes for those released.
“Those who have been allowed to go free, please try to adjust yourselves and never commit crime again,” he said.
Among those released yesterday was 30-year-old Sen Visal, who received a 12-year prison sentence for kidnapping in 2002.
“I am very happy–it feels to me like today is my second birth,” he said upon his release from Prey Sar.
Mr Visal said he did not have a job lined up yet, but was hopeful about finding work once he returned home to Prey Veng province.
“I can speak a little English and a little bit of Chinese. I hope that I will get a job after I take more lessons for my English,” he said.
The prison department’s Mr Mauv said the rest of the 68 prisoners approved for release around the country would be set free today. Nationwide, a total of 29 prisoners will have their prison terms cut by 12 months, 81 by nine months, and 121 by six months.