Samoa to pardon prisoners for 50th anniversary

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The Pacific island nation of Samoa is to pardon 35 prisoners to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence from New Zealand.

The move was announced by head of state Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi to crowds gathered in the capital, Apia.

No details were given on who would be pardoned or what their crimes were.

Samoa, known as Western Samoa until 1997, is holding four days of festivities to celebrate its independence in 1962.

Thousands attended a flag-raising ceremony in Apia on Friday morning followed by a 21-gun salute.

A parade then took place through the capital.

Dignitaries from New Zealand are also taking part in the anniversary celebrations.

Samoa is made up of nine volcanic islands, two of which - Savai'i and Upolu - make up more than 99% of the land area.

It has a population of about 179,000.

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