NINE Bahamians are back and free in Nassau after Cuba announced pardons for more than 3,500 prisoners to mark the four-day visit of the Pope this weekend.
On Wednesday, Alma Adams, the Bahamas Ambassador to Cuba, bade farewell in Havana to the nine happy inmates as they boarded the 1.15pm Bahamasair flight to Nassau.
According to a release from Bahamas Information Services last night, the Bahamian Embassy had received the good news last Friday afternoon when Ambassador Adams was officially notified by Anet Pino, Deputy Director of International Law and Multilateral Division of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the prisoners had been pardoned.
“The 3,522 pardoned included inmates over 60, younger than 20 with no criminal record, chronically ill, women, those set for conditional release in 2016, and some serving and working in open conditions, as well as foreigners, provided that the country of origin guaranteed repatriation,” the release said.
“With few exceptions for humanitarian reasons, this did not include persons sanctioned for the crimes of murder, homicide, rape, pederasty with violence, corruption of minors, theft and illegal slaughter of cattle, drug trafficking, robbery with violence and intimidation against persons in their aggravated forms, nor those crimes committed against the security of the State.”
The pardons took effect on Wednesday, three days before Pope Francis arrives for a visit to Cuba on his way to the United States.
“The functionaries at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs in both Cuba and the Bahamas, as well as the Ministry of National Security in the Bahamas and the Embassy staff, networked to guarantee swift action in returning those nine Bahamian men, who are now free from all of their sentences in the Republic of Cuba,” the release said.
“The Bahamas government thanks the government of Cuba for this gesture of goodwill that stands as a symbol of our good and cordial relations and our Ambassador to the Vatican, HE Sean McWeeney has conveyed the country’s appreciation to his Holiness the Pope.”