KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ To ease jails overcrowded by prisoners awaiting genocide trials, the Rwandan government sent home 76 prisoners Tuesday held in connection with a 1994 slaughter whose files contained no evidence against them.

Those released were the first among at least 31,000 people, most of them Hutus, eligible for release for lack of evidence or because their files have been lost. They were imprisoned on charges of taking part or supporting the 1994 Hutu government-organized slaughter of more than 500,000 minority Tutsis.

Rwandan jails are crowded with 130,000 people awaiting genocide trials. In a bid to speed up trials and meet international justice standards, the government announced those with unsubstantiated evidence against them will be sent home.

So far, more than 350 people have been tried in connection with the genocide, and at least 120 have been sentenced to death.

The release of prisoners has been criticized by the influential association of genocide survivors, which says some of those set free were perpetrators of genocide.

Justice officials said they expected a number of those released to be rearrested if additional evidence is brought against them.