By Enyichukwu Enemanna
In celebration of Christmas, the President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe has freed over 1,000 prison inmates from across correctional facilities in the country, prisons official said Monday.
Among the 1,004 convicts who benefitted from the amnesty on Monday include Sri Lankans jailed over their inability to pay outstanding fines, Prison Commissioner Gamini Dissanayake said.
Sri Lanka is predominantly adherents of the Buddhist religion.
In May, a similar number of convicts were released to mark the holiday of Vesak, which celebrates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.
The latest pardon came after police arrested nearly 15,000 persons during a weeklong military-backed anti-narcotics drive that was halted on the eve of Christmas.
A police statement said 13,666 suspects were arrested while nearly 1,100 addicts were detained and sent for compulsory rehabilitation at a military-run facility.
Prisons in the island nation are highly overcrowded. As of Friday, there were nearly 30,000 inmates in facilities designed to contain just 11,000, official data indicates.