56 of 400 Taliban prisoners on death row: Sidiqi

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Of the 400 Talibaninfo-icon prisoners who are yet to be released, 56 have been sentenced to death, says a top presidential aide.

Presidential spokesman Sidiq Sidiqi said in an interview soon after President Ghani signed an order for the release of the hard-core Taliban inmates.

Another 156 prisoners, who are to be freed in compliance with Ghani’s orders, have been convicted of drug smuggling, according to the official.

In accordance with the president’s decree, issued on Loya Jirgainfo-icon’s recommendation, the remaining militant prisoners would be released over the next few days.

US officials hope the intra-Afghan peace negotiations would take place soon after the release of the prisoners -- a consistent Taliban demand that has now been met.

Without giving the exact date, Sidiqi said the government’s negotiating team would soon reach Doha, the capital of Qatar, where the US-Taliban peace pact was signed on Feb. 29.

The spokesman insisted all hurdle to the launch of the intra-Afghan talks had been removed. The negotiations were originally scheduled to begin on March 10 this year.

As part of the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban, Kabul has freed 5,000 Taliban inmates and, in return, the militant movement released 1,000 government soldiers.

sa/mud

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