Oman pardons 234 arrested during protests
Muscat, April 21, 2011
Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said has pardoned 234 protesters arrested during weeks of demonstrations in the Sultanate, the official news agency said.
Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled Oman for 40 years, promised a $2.6 billion spending package on Sunday after nearly two months of demonstrations inspired by a wave of protests that has spread across the Arab world.
"Sultan Qaboos has pardoned 234 people accused of vandalism and damages to private property during the demonstrations," Oman News Agency (ONA) reported, quoting a statement from the state prosecutor.
ONA did not say when the detainees were released or if any protesters would face charges.
In April, Oman's prosecutor said security forces had detained a number of protesters but did not say how many.Protesters and activists said forces had raided the homes of suspected protest leaders and arrested hundreds of people.
Demonstrations started in Oman in February but have been relatively small compared to those in other Arab countries, with dozens of protesters camping out in tents near the country's quasi-parliament, the Shura Council, in the capital Muscat.
Since the protests began, up to seven people have been killed in the industrial hub of Sohar, doctors said. The government said only two had died.
Omani demonstrators have focused on demands for better wages, jobs and an end to graft. Many protesters have called for the state to prosecute ministers it sacked for corruption in response to the demonstrations. - Reuters