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Oman pardons 234 arrested during protests

From Jenifer Fenton, CNN
Hundreds of anti-government protesters gathered on March 7 in front of the Majlis al Shura in Seeb, near the capital Muscat.
Hundreds of anti-government protesters gathered on March 7 in front of the Majlis al Shura in Seeb, near the capital Muscat.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Only those arrested for "crowding in public streets" are pardoned
  • Those who obstructed police or attacked public employees will face prosecution
  • Demonstrators have called for greater freedom of expression

(CNN) -- Oman's ruler has pardoned 234 people who were arrested during anti-government protests earlier in the year, the Gulf state's news agency said.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said pardoned only those who were taken into custody for "the crimes of crowding in public streets," the Oman News Agency said Wednesday.

Those who blocked roads, obstructed police and attacked public employees were referred to courts for prosecution, the report said.

Protesters took to the streets in the key port city of Sohar and other areas in late February to demand greater freedom of expression, higher salaries and a clampdown on government corruption. They also called for a new constitution, and the prosecution of security officials whose actions led to the death of demonstrators.

Two people died during the demonstrations, said Zamzam al Rashdi, head of the news agency.

Oman is not a major oil producer, but a significant share of the world's oil shipping passes through the Strait of Hormuz, along the Omani coast.

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