Left-wingers voted last night for mass pardons to free up space in Portuguese jails.
The move will see around 2000 prisoners released, many of them on the last leg of their sentences.
Prison authorities have been pushing for a reduction in numbers, fearing an infections ‘catastrophe’ if the situation didn’t alter dramatically.
But centre-right parties were totally against the plan, and voted against. PAN too – often an ally of the government – abstained.
Say reports today, the decision covers inmates on the last two years of their terms as well as some over-65s with underlying health conditions.
Faced with the recalcitrance of the centre-right justice minister Francisca Van Dunem said: “A State that risks the decimation of thousands of lives on the day Covid-19 reaches its prisons is a weak State, and we are not that State”.
Various tweaks were made to the final text of the pardon, ensuring that prisoners who had committed crimes against security forces ‘in the exercise of their duty’ were not included. Murders, rapists and wife-beaters have also been excluded from early release.
All prisoners given pardons will be expected to spend 14-days in quarantine.