South Vietnam yesterday (Thursday) announced it would release nearly 3,000 Vietcong war prisoners over the next few days to mark President Thieu's inauguration on Sunday.
Prisoners at Can Tho camp in various working, educational and recreational activities.
orig of 12755/71
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: South Vietnam yesterday (Thursday) announced it would release nearly 3,000 Vietcong war prisoners over the next few days to mark President Thieu's inauguration on Sunday.
Some of those to be released are inmates at a big prison camp at Can Tho, 50 miles south of Saigon, which newsmen inspected yesterday.
The camp, housing 3,000 prisoners, is a series of corrugated iron barracks behind barbed-wire closely guarded by watchtowers and military police.
The prisoners - except those too ill - pass away the time making handicrafts studying in the classroom, working in the kitchen, learning trades, playing games growing food - as well as other menial tasks which are part of the routine of prison life.
Of the prisoners due to get their freedom, more than 600 will be released outright and returned to Vietcong territory, while the remainder would be released as if they were defectors.
But a Vietcong spokesman at the Paris peace talks denounced the mass released. It was 'an impudent manoeuvre', he said, aimed at turning public opinion away from what he described as the 'fascist character of the Saigon regime.'