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Lanka hiring hangmen as 800 wait on death row

[Reuters, Thursday, 6 October 2011 12:28 No Comment]

Sri Lanka wants to hire hangmen, a top government official said yesterday, after the country’s only two executioners quit their jobs, leaving at least 800 convicts sitting on death row.

The death penalty has not been used in Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country, since 1976, though the government reinstated it in 2004 for rape, drug trafficking and murder.

“There are two vacancies for the hangman position after one person who held the position got a promotion, and the other retired,” said Secretary of the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, A Desanayake.

“We are planning to advertise the vacancy calling for applications by next week as we cannot keep the position vacant.”

At least 800 people convicted of murder and drugs offences could potentially be executed, Desanayake said. The president must sign off on any judicial execution.

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