Tanzania: Relatives Go to Pick Up Prisoner Who 'Rejected' Amnesty

Mbeya — Relatives turned up to pick up Mr Merad Abraham, one of the 5,533 prisoners freed on presidential amnesty who refused to leave prison.

President John Magufuli employed the powers bestowed on him by the Constitution to pardon over 5,000 prisoners on the 58th Independence anniversary on Monday held in Mwanza Region.

For all practical purposes, Mr Abraham rejected the offer to leave Ruanda Prison in Mbeya Region where he was serving a 30-year jail term. He claimed that he had no relatives to go to. In protest, he injured himself with a stone in an effort to create a reason for him to remain in prison. Mr Abraham was among the 259 prisoners in Mbeya Region who qualified for the presidential amnesty.

The Mbeya Regional Prisons Officer, Mr Mathias Mkama, said Abraham had spent some years at the Ukonga Prison in Dar es Salaam where he had developed psychological complications.

He attributed Abraham's decision to injure himself with a sharp stone in the face to the psychological challenges he could still be facing.

"We communicated with Ukonga Prison and confirmed that he was facing challenges. It isn't true that he has no relatives, as they were waiting for him outside to take him home," he said.

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The other amnestied prisoners happily left the prison following instrutions of the regional commissioner, Albert Chalamila, and directives had been issued to district commissioners on how the prisoners would be assisted to start life afresh, including being given loans.

Mr Chalamila warned the prisoners against committing new offences, takeing ill-adv ised, unfair advantage of the presidential amnesty.

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