Malawi president pardons prisoners
Blantyre - Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned 287 prisoners on Friday to mark the country's 46 years of independence from Britain.
The public security ministry said Mutharika had pardoned "prisoners who had served half of their sentences and those with good behaviour and were not convicted of serious offences."
The president normally grants pardons around public celebrations like Christmas and independence day.
Malawi's 30 prisons, spread across the country's 28 districts, house about 12 500 inmates, even though the capacity is 5 500.
The prison conditions were once described by a high court judge as "hell on earth."
Mutharika, who retires in 2014 after his mandatory two terms in office, has in the past pardoned hundreds of inmates suffering from Aids-related and other terminal illnesses or who had shown remorse for their crimes.
Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, is ravaged by the Aids scourge and has nearly one million people infected with the pandemic.