Most of those to be freed were petty criminals with less than one year to serve, those aged over 60 who had served more than half of their sentences, or the severely ill, Wanchai Roujanawong said.
"There will be about 25,000 out of 170,000 inmates nationwide who fall under those categories and who will be released," Wanchai said after his department's Web site published a royal decree detailing criteria for those to be freed or have sentences cut.
"Foreigners will be eligible for the release too if they fall under those categories," Wanchai said.
The royal decree published on www.correct.go.th. on Tuesday said the releases were meant to "mark the auspicious event to give those people a chance to be good citizens again," referring to the monarch's 80th birthday on Dec 5.
The amnesty would also reduce the death sentences of 85 inmates, including a high-profile Thai gynaecologist found guilty of murdering his wife, dismembering her body and flushing the parts down the toilet, to life in prison, Wanchai said.
The releases would take place in three months after screening panels at 138 prisons came up with a final list and won court approvals, the decree said.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Aralık 2007, 12:16