MARJAYOUN, Lebanon, Jan 13 (AFP) - Twenty-five Lebanese held in the notorious Khiam jail in Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon were freed Thursday, Israel's proxy South Lebanon Army (SLA) militia said.
The 25 were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the SLA said, adding that the releases were to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan last weekend.
The freeing of the prisoners had been delayed because of an unspecified "complication", a prisoners' support group said Monday, attributing the hold-up to the high-profile announcement last week of the release, unlike on previous occasions.
Lebanon's representative on the southern Lebanon truce committee, General Maher Tufayli, said on January 3 that Israel would hand over 22 prisoners from Khiam to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Lebanese security services said the prisoners were all elderly or ill. The prisoner support group noted that last year some 70 were freed without fuss, media attention or political exploitation of the event.
Some 150 Lebanese are held without trial in Khiam, some of them for more than 10 years. The jail is manned by the SLA under Israeli supervision. Human rights organizations, including the London-based Amnesty International and the US-based Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly condemned cases of torture and ill-treatment of detainees there.
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