Syria's president grants amnesty, reduced sentences on anniversary of coup that put father in power

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria’s president issued a decree granting amnesty and reducing sentences for several categories of crime committed prior to Thursday, his office and state media reported.

No reason was given for the amnesty but it came on the anniversary of the 1970 coup that brought the father and predecessor of President Bashar Assad to power.

Assad has issued similar amnesties since the country’s deadly conflict that has killed half a million people began in March 2011.

The decree grants a complete pardon for misdemeanor convictions and people serving prison sentences who have reached the age of 70, or those who have incurable diseases.

It said that those who were sentenced to death will have their sentences commuted to life in prison and those who were sentenced to life in prison will end up serving 20 years.

The decree did not include an amnesty for the crimes of weapons smuggling or crimes resulting in deaths.

On Wednesday, French judicial authorities issued international arrest warrants for Assad, his brother and two army generals for alleged complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity, lawyers for Syrian victims said. They include a 2013 chemical attack on rebel-held Damascus suburbs.