The prisoners were selected according to the nature of their crimes and their behaviour while in prison

The Cuban government has pardoned 787 common prisoners at the request of Pope Francis.

The Council of State headed by President Raul Castro said in a statement published on Tuesday in state media that the prisoners affected were selected according to the crimes committed, their behaviour while serving time and the time remaining on their sentences.

It said those pardoned did not include people convicted for homicide, rape, corruption of minors, drug trafficking or similar crimes. Women, youths and sick people received special consideration.

Authorities did not specify how many of those pardoned remain behind bars, or when they will be released if still incarcerated.