updated 3/2/2007 6:06:43 PM ET 2007-03-02T23:06:43

King Mohammed VI pardoned nearly 9,000 prisoners to celebrate the birth of his baby girl, the Justice Ministry said.

In addition to the 8,836 pardons, the king also reduced the sentences of 24,218 other prisoners, the ministry said in a statement released to the official MAP news agency Thursday.

The North African kingdom's massive pardon came after Princess Lalla Salma gave birth to a baby girl Wednesday. Lalla Khadija is the royal couple's second child. Crown Prince Moulay Hassan was born in May 2003.

The ministry said the pardons were based on humanitarian concerns and a hope of integrating many prisoners back into society. Those pardoned include people with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly.

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