Sri Lankan executioner runs away after seeing gallows

Officials say they will have to seek new recruit

AFP, Colombo, Sri Lanka

March 12, 2014

Sri Lanka's new executioner panicked after seeing the country's main gallows for the first time and has since gone missing, the top prison official said Tuesday.

Commissioner-General of Prisons Chandrarathna Pallegama said their new employee reported for duty earlier this month, but fled in fear after seeing the execution site on Thursday.

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

The job pays US$85 a month but as no one has been executed since 1976, it could be very light work.

The previous two hangmen quit the job after frequently falling ill.

The latest employee was hired as a replacement but he is now absent without leave Pallegama said, adding that the hangman was actually expected to do light clerical work in the absence of capital punishment.

"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."AFP