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The last guillotined
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-09-10 10:16:54
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Does the name Hamida Djandoubi mean anything to you? He was a Tunisian immigrant who tortured and killed his girlfriend and for that reason he was sentenced to death by a French court in Marseille and was sent to the guillotine on September 10th 1977 at Baumettes Prison, France.

The last executioner of the French republic was Marcel Chevalier who ended his work in 1981 after President Francois Mitterrand abolished capital punishment by constitutional law following the example of other European countries. The last two executions by guillotine were the one I mentioned in the beginning, Hamida Djandoubi, and before that Jerome Carrein, who was sentenced to death for the murder and rape of a seven-year old girl.

I’m afraid the dates, 1977 and 1981 look scandalous close, especially after we all watched disgusted the vengeful hanging of Saddam Hussein in Iraq by literally the mod since there is no other way to describe the scenes we all saw in the video that overwhelmed the internet for days. Western leaders complained loudly about the act that deprives any sense of human dignity. Death by guillotine, it sounds so bad that it totally turns the meaning of the word 'punishment' into barbaric revenge and that’s exactly what is: a barbaric act that has no room in our world. Has no room?

The USA is the second country in the world sentencing humans to capital punishment and they reached record numbers over the last years under the era of George W. Bush, a real supporter of the act during his governorship in Texas, and his brother, nowadays in Florida. China, according to Mao, the founder of the Chinese republic as it is today, claimed, in theory, that the country is a defender of human rights. The people that had to follow the last road to death count in their thousands. This is the very same state that will host an event symbolizing human rights next year, but here you cannot blame the Chinese; it is the fault of the idiotic and politically insensitive Olympic committee.

To return to the guillotine, the punishment is so barbaric that most of us place its use in other centuries, preferring to think that this happened only during the chaotic times of the French Revolution and after that during the dictatorship than accept that it could have happened in our lifetime.

The last public guillotining happened on June 1939 and the sentenced was Eugene Weidmann who had committed six murders. The reason for the French government to decide that future executions would take place in prison yards was due to the outrageous misbehavior of the public that watched the sentence, who crossed every last line of human dignity by becoming a mob thirsty for blood.

Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, the whole event was secretly filmed. The fortunately applies in the sense that more people saw how low human behavior can go. Even the executioner was drunk in the event having a fist fight with his cousin and assistant while everybody was watching and, of course, due to his condition failed to kill the sentenced the first time with the guillotine, who was then screaming while they were taking place for a second time.

From the very beginning of our publication, Ovi magazine has taken a stand against capital punishment. Eye for an eye is not justice for any country that likes to be called a democracy. It is barbaric, shows revenge and nothing excuses society to become a murderer in the name of just punishment. We have often campaigned and we are going to continue doing the same for as long is necessary to abolish capital punishment from every country in the world - after all, we consider it as a proof of a fully-functioning democracy.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-09-10 11:36:23
Indeed, what is the saying: an eye for an eye will eventually make the whole world blind. Those who think this statement a tasteless joke but then go around mouthing platitudes about the punishment that fits the crime (unfortunately there are many in France and elsewhere in Europe who wish to reinstate capital punishment and others who misguidedly wish to retain the status quo simply as a way of showing off moral superiority) ought to read and reflect on Albert Camu’s “Reflections on the Guillotine.”

There is however a deeper question to be considered and answered: what does capital punishment do to those who assume the prerogatives of the Lord of life? That is a question beyond mere legality within in a democratic society or even mere decency and morality. Capital punishment is a way of denying not only compassion and mercy, as Camu aptly points out, but also the human potential for forgiveness, conversion, redemption, salvation, all notions poorly understood by post-modern man. It also blinds us to the consideration of the fallacious romantic Rousseaunian notion that we are all born innocent and then are corrupted by society. Charles Manson, with whom our revenge seeking society has a fascination and gets an interview every year, claims exactly that he is innocent, just got corrupted by society and therefore does not understand why he ought to be jailed for life. He refuses to accept any punishment as appropriate. That is the other side of the issue to which we also need to grant a long hard look too. I am afraid that unless we seriously examine those transcendent considerations and root causes (the way a Dostoyevsky examines them in Crime and Punishment, just to mention one), we will not have gone much deeper than the shallow surface of the issue.

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-10 15:13:22
P.S. Here are some intriguing statistics on the issue in the EU:

"In Britain, the world headquarters of Amnesty International, opinion polls have shown that between two-thirds and three-quarters of the population favors the death penalty--about the same as in the United States. In Italy, which has led the international fight against capital punishment recently, roughly half the population wants it reinstated. In France, clear majorities continued to back the death penalty long after it was abolished in 1981. There is barely a country in Europe where the death penalty was abolished in response to public opinion rather than in spite of it."

We seem to have a gordian knot on our hands, for democracy would dictate that the people be listened to and capital punishment reinstated. Perhaps the much needed debate should be about our diverging opinions and understanding of the essence of democracy? Just a thought and a proposal.

Gene McKinney2008-05-13 19:25:55
True, we often hear of polls calling for reinstating of the noose, guillotine etc., but how many of these polls are carried out by tabloid papers in the aftermath of high profile murders and/or unfair convictions? The recent upsurge in the demand for the death penalty in the UK came on the back of several high profile incidents of this nature, and we should beware these polls - human nature goes with the tide, ebbing and flowing evermore. Much like public opinion, in fact...

JM2010-02-23 13:51:14
Los franceses se las dan de civilizados pero son unos salvajes, enviando a la guillotina a personas incluso entrado el siglo XX. Si la pena de muerte es un atraso para la humanidad, solo hay que imaginarse morir en la guillotina, decapitado, con sangre por todas partes ¿cómo se podía permitir esa barbarie? y todavía tienen la poca vergüenza de criticar a otros paises.

Mayra2010-12-30 11:57:47
sanben que pinches franceses d mierda aki les va mis respetos: cortense su cabeza pinches culeros y metansela x el culo p q asi dejen d estar matando a gente y tambin que se les kite la frustracion de ser putos fracasados. oojala se esten pudriendo en el infierno y los violen con todas las cabezas q cortaron pinches tutos d mierdasa fracasados, y como no sirvieron ni p ser bueno putos el unico oficio q encontrar fue decapitar. neta pinches pendejos traumados

MAC2012-12-30 12:54:52
The last public guillotining in France, as "explained" above did NOT involve a fight between the chief executioner (Henri Desfourneaux) and his cousin (Andre Obrecht). There was NO second attempt to execute, or screaming from the prisoner etc.
This "description" is complete nonsense.
The author should research contemporary reports from accurate sources.

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