BAKU, Azerbaijan — A former health minister of Azerbaijan who has been imprisoned for 12 years has been pardoned by the country’s president.

Ali Insanov was among 431 people pardoned or allotted reduced sentences Saturday by President Ilham Aliev ahead of the Nowruz new year’s holiday.

Insanov was arrested in 2005 and initially charged with plotting to overthrow the government. That charge was dropped, and in 2007 he was convicted of illegal privatization of state assets. Two years ago he was additionally convicted of harboring psychotropic substances while in prison and of scuffling with a prison employee.

Insanov claimed the charges were cooked up to keep him imprisoned. Human rights groups considered him a political prisoner.

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