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Editorial: In a civilized society, not even the most vicious crimes justify a death sentence

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It is soul-bruising to contemplate the torture that 10-year-old Anthony Avalos endured in his Lancaster home for more than a week before dying last year. Whippings with a looped cord and belt. Repeatedly held upside down then dropped on his head. Getting slammed into pieces of furniture and against the floor. Hot sauce poured on his face and mouth.
The road map of the abuse stretched from head to toe on his small malnourished body — bruises, abrasions, scabs and cuts visible on the outside. Traumatic brain injury and soft tissue damage on the inside. All allegedly perpetrated by his mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva.
RELATED | California: Prosecutors seeking death penalty in Anthony Avalos torture case
If ever a set of circumstances called for the death penalty, this would be it. Few were surprised when Los Angeles County prosecutors said Wednesday that if the couple is convicted of the torture-murder, the jury will be asked to recommend a death sentence.
Such ca…

Sri Lanka hires new hangmen

Sri Lanka says it has hired two new executioners to replace the previous hangman, who quit shortly after seeing the gallows for the first time.

Two other hangmen hired in 2013 failed to show up for work.

The country has not executed anyone since 1976 and the role is described as "light administrative work only".

"In the event the government wants to carry out executions, we should be prepared," said Prisons Commissioner General Rohana Pushpakumara.

Although there are 1,116 convicts on death row, death sentences have been routinely commuted to life in jail for the past 40 years and Sri Lanka last month officially acknowledged it was no longer carrying out capital punishment.

However, there have been calls to bring the death penalty back after a sharp rise in child abuse, rape, murder and drug trafficking since the end of the civil war in 2009.

Last week the government made it clear it was against the move, although President Sirisena said he would support it if parliament approved it because the public was in favour.

'I won't hesitate'

Only 14 of the 24 applicants attended the job interview, Mr Pushpakumara told BBC Sinhala.

"I'm angry at drug traffickers, murderers and those who rape children, so I will not hesitate a moment if I am asked to execute them," said one of the applicants, a former soldier. "If they are not implementing the death penalty then I will quit."

Another said he was attracted by the light workload.

"Even if they want me to execute someone I am ready, but it looks unlikely," he said.

The position of executioner fell vacant in 2014 when the previous hangman quit citing stress soon after seeing the gallows in the capital Colombo.

Source: BBC News, October 14, 2015

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