Gallow Fright

COLOMBO, March 11, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s new executioner panicked after seeing the country’s main gallows for the first time and has since gone AWOL leaving the authorities hanging, the top prison official said Tuesday. “But, with this chap leaving, we are now in a quandary,” Pallegama said. “In case the government resumes hanging, we won’t be ready unless we can replace the hangman quickly.” Commissioner-General of Prisons Chandrarathna Pallegama said their new employee reported for duty earlier this month, but freaked out after seeing the execution site on Thursday.

“He has said he was scared after seeing the gallows,” Pallegama told AFP. “Since then, he has not reported for work. I think we will have to look for a new hangman.”

Sri Lanka last year recruited two hangmen after keeping the post of executioner vacant for decades. The job pays $85 a month and comes with light work as no one had been executed since 1976.

The first two hangmen quit the job after frequently falling ill. the latest employee was to fill the vacancy, but now he was absent without leave, Pallegama said adding that the hangman was actually expected to execute light clerical work in the absence of capital punishment.