Saddam Hussein’s half-brother was decapitated in Baghdad earlier today after a hangman apparently miscalculated the force needed to break his neck. The foul-up comes just weeks after a cell-phone video of Hussein’s own hanging sparked a worldwide furor and re-ignited debate about the morality of legally mandated killing.
Around the world, opinion is deeply divided about the death penalty. In Latin America alone, views on the issue lurch widely from country to country. Eighty two per cent of Peruvians supported execution in a recent poll, for example, and not just for murderers, for child molesters too. Mexicans, however, are at the other end of the scale. Only 38 per cent of those surveyed there approve of the death penalty for any crime.
For the British, whom you murder, and how you do it, matters. Forty six per cent of those polled last January thought terrorists should be executed; just seven per cent said the same punishment should apply to those who murder their husband or wife.
Opinion on Hussein’s own execution was not nearly as mixed. In a six-country poll conducted before the execution, 82 per cent of Americans supported the death sentence. A majority of respondents in Britain, France, Germany and Spain concurred.
For more world views on execution and the death penalty, check out the links in the sidebar.