Indian lawyers debate how to execute Mohammad Afzal

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Even as the debate over whether Mohammad Afzal should be put to death for his role in the foiled 2001 attack on Indian Parliament rages on, lawyers are trying to determine the most humane method by which he may be executed. Some are quoting a Law Commission report that says lethal injection is the most painless way of ending a condemned person's life. A former member of the Law Commission, N M Ghatate said

Hanging is one of the cruelest ways of putting a man to death because he gets strangulated and his eyes pop out. There are many other gory details and he has to be prepared for the punishment.

Afzal's lawyer Gavin Fernandes however rejected the lethal injection idea stating

Lethal injection has been held to be cruel, inhuman and degrading. This goes to show that whenever you take a life, whether it is by hanging or by lethal injection, it causes enormous pain

Indian law allows for the death penalty to be awarded for serious offences, albeit in the "rarest of rare" cases. Hanging has traditionally been used as a method of execution, and the other option (that of having the condemned face a firing squad) has seldom been exercised. Those against hanging however claim it is more cruel than lethal injection. Studies have however shown that the paralytic agent in the lethal injection may give the appearance that the condemned individual is "calm" due to the fact that he/she is unable to express his/her pain externally.