Colombo, Feb 4  Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday granted amnesty to 197 prisoners on the country’s 74th Independence Day.

The prisoners were released at a ceremony held in Colombo’s Welikada prison, reports Xinhua news agency.

The prison’s spokesperson Chandana Ekanayake said those released were serving minor sentences and some of them had not been able to pay their fines.

Prisoners over the age of 65 and those who had completed 50 per cent of the jail term were also among those who were released under the presidential pardon.

The amnesty did not apply to those convicted for murder, drug offences, rape and armed robbery, Ekanayake said.

Sri Lanka got its independence from British rule on February 4 of 1948, and a grand military parade was held to commemorate the day.

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