Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hanging him until he is dead

Tombstone Gallows
Originally uploaded by cancurry.
Came across this very interesting piece by Daniel Engber over at Slate:
Saddam Hussein will be executed in February, unless he can convince an appeals court to overturn the sentence handed down on Sunday. According to Iraqi law, the death penalty consists of "hanging the condemned person by the neck until he is dead." How do they hang people these days?

The same way they hanged criminals 100 years ago. The trick to a successful hanging is to have the victim drop an appropriate distance through a trapdoor before the rope goes taut against his neck. If he drops too far, he'll have picked up so much speed that the noose might decapitate him. If he doesn't drop far enough, he could remain conscious as he slowly strangles to death. But if you get the "drop" just right, the knot of the noose will snap against his neck—and either kill him or knock him unconscious.
It's worth a read. Down toward the bottom, Mr. Engber writes about Mitchell Rupe who beat the hangman by eating junk food.

From The Seattle Times
In 1994, a federal judge upheld his conviction but agreed with Rupe's contention that at more than 400 pounds, he was too heavy to hang because of the risk of decapitation.
If Hussein starts asking for Twinkies and HoHos by the crate, you can bet he's going to try and pull a Rupe.

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