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Hangman may be spared unenviable task
20/02/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter I AP
 
Executions on hold ... Prisons chief Paradzai Zimondi
 
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PRISON officials have said they are not in a hurry to engage the services of a newly-appointed hangman to execute the 77 inmates on death row and will review their sentences.

Prisons official Huggins Machingauta said Wednesday that authorities wanted to give prisoners facing execution a "chance to live."

He said all death sentences will be brought before the Cabinet for a review to commute them to life.

The hangman's post was vacant for about seven years since the previous one retired in 2005, the last year an execution was carried out.

State media reported earlier this month that prison officials said they found a new hangman.

The development was condemned by rights groups opposed to the death penalty.

"This macabre recruitment is disturbing" said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.

"(It) suggests that Zimbabwe does not want to join the global trend towards abolition of this cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment.

"We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner.”

The courts can impose the death sentence for serious offences like murder and treason.

However, a new proposed draft constitution endorsed by the country's main political parties exempts women, men under 21 and those over 70 from the death penalty.

The constitution, which will be put to a referendum on March 16, also prohibits the mandatory imposition of the death penalty for certain crimes.



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