Execution by firing squad Execution by firing squad
, in the past sometimes called fusillading
(from the French fusil
), is a method of capital punishment
, particularly common in the military
and in times of war
. Execution by shooting
is a fairly old practice. Some reasons for its use are that firearms
are usually readily available and a gunshot
to a vital organ
, such as the brain or heart, most often will kill relatively quickly.
Execution by firing squad
A firing squad is normally composed of several military personnel, all of whom are usually instructed to fire simultaneously, thus preventing both disruption of the process by one member and identification of the member who fired the lethal shot. To avoid disfigurement due to multiple shots to the head, the shooters are typically instructed to aim at the heart
, sometimes aided by a paper target. The prisoner is typically blindfolded or hooded, as well as restrained, although in some cases prisoners have asked to be allowed to face the firing squad without their eyes covered. Media portrayals have frequently shown the condemned being offered a final cigarette as well. Executions
can be carried out with the condemned either standing or sitting. There is a tradition in some jurisdictions that such executions are carried out at first light
or at sunrise. This gave rise to the phrase "shot at dawn".
Execution by firing squad is distinct from other forms of execution by firearms, such as an execution by shooting
to the back of the head or neck. However, the single shot by the squad's officer with a pistol (coup de grâce
) is sometimes incorporated in a firing squad execution, particularly if the initial volley turns out not to be immediately fatal. Before the introduction of firearms, bows
were often used—Saint Sebastian
is usually depicted as executed by a squad of Roman auxiliary
archers in around AD 288; King Edmund the Martyr
of East Anglia
, by some accounts, was tied to a tree and executed by Viking
archers on 20 November 869 or 870.
If the condemned prisoner is an ex-officer who is acknowledged to have shown bravery throughout their career, they may be afforded the privilege of giving the order to fire. An example of this is Marshal of France Michel Ney
. As a means of insulting the condemned, however, past executions have had them shot in the back, denied blindfolds, or even tied to chairs. When Galeazzo Ciano
, son-in-law of Benito Mussolini
, and several other former Fascists who voted to remove him from power were executed, they were tied to chairs facing away from their executioners. By some reports, Ciano managed to twist his chair around at the last second to face them.
Sometimes, one or more members of the firing squad may be issued a weapon containing a blank cartridge
In such cases, members of the firing squad are not told beforehand whether they are using live ammunition. This is believed[by whom?]
to reinforce the sense of diffusion of responsibility
among the firing squad members.
Trained soldiers know the difference between a blank round, and a ball round.
The blank round, when fired, has no recoil at all, whereas a ball round will produce significant recoil.
This is especially significant when bolt action rifles are employed.
This diffusion of responsibility makes the execution process more reliable because the members are more likely to aim to kill if they are not entirely blamed for it, or if there is a chance they did not fire the lethal shot.
It also allows each member of the firing squad to believe afterwards that he did or did not personally fire a fatal shot
—for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the "conscience round".
According to Pte. W. A. Quinton, who served in the British Army
during the First World War
and had the experience of serving with a firing squad in October 1915, he and 11 colleagues were relieved of any live ammunition and their own rifles before being issued replacement weapons. The firing squad was then given a short speech by an officer before they fired a volley
at the condemned man. He said about the episode, "I had the satisfaction of knowing that as soon as I fired, the absence of any recoil [indicated] that I had merely fired a blank cartridge".
On 12 October 1915 a British nurse Edith Cavell
was executed by a German firing squad at the Tir national
shooting range at Schaerbeek
after being convicted of "conveying troops to the enemy" during the First World War.
During the Battle of the Bulge
in World War II, three captured German spies were tried and executed by a U.S. firing squad at Henri-Chapelle
on 23 December 1944. Thirteen other Germans were also tried and shot at either Henri-Chapelle or Huy
These executed spies took part in Waffen-SS commando Otto Skorzeny
's Operation Greif
, in which English-speaking German commandos operated behind U.S. lines, masquerading in U.S. uniforms and equipment.
The Brazilian Constitution of 1988 expressly prohibits the usage of capital punishment in peacetime, but authorizes the use of the death penalty for military crimes committed during wartime.
War needs to be declared formally, in accordance with international law and article 84, item 19 of the Federal Constitution, with due authorization from the Brazilian Congress. The Brazilian Code of Military Penal Law, in its chapter dealing with wartime offences, specifies the crimes that are subject to the death penalty. The death penalty is never the only possible sentence for a crime, and the punishment must be imposed by the military courts system. Per the norms of the Brazilian Code of Military Penal Procedure, the death penalty is carried out by firing squad.
Although Brazil still permits the use of capital punishment during wartime, no convicts were actually executed during Brazil's last military conflict, the Second World War. The military personnel sentenced to death during World War II had their sentences reduced by the President of the Republic.
Following the military overthrow of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende
in 1973, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet
initiated a series of war tribunal trials against leftist people around the country. During the first months after his coup against democracy, hundreds of people were killed by firing squads and summary executions.
A communist insurgent is blindfolded and executed by firing squad, Cuba
Cuba, as part of its penal system, still utilizes death by firing squad, although the last recorded execution was in 2003. In January 1992 a Cuban exile convicted of "terrorism, sabotage and enemy propaganda" was executed by firing squad.
The Council of the State
noted that the punishment served as a deterrent and stated that the death penalty "fulfills a goal of overall prevention, especially when the idea is to stop such loathsome actions from being repeated, to deter others and so to prevent innocent human lives from being endangered in the future".
During the months following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution
in 1959, soldiers of the Batista
government were executed by firing squad.
A total of 46 people were executed between 1946 and 1950 following the addition of the National Traitor Act to the Penal Code, which reintroduced the death penalty in Denmark. The last death penalty in Denmark was executed on 20 July 1950 upon Ib Birkedal Hansen, who was convicted of treason as a result of his work as a Gestapo interrogator and torture executioner. The death penalty in the Penal Code was abolished in 1951.
The death penalty was widely used during and after the Finnish Civil War
(January–May 1918); some 9,700 Finns and an unknown number of Russian volunteers on Red side were executed during the war or in its aftermath.
Most executions were carried out by firing squads after the sentences were given by illegal or semi-legalcourts martial
. Only some 250 persons were sentenced to death in courts acting on legal authority.
During World War II
some 500 persons were executed, half of them condemned spies. The usual causes for death penalty for Finnish citizens
and high treason
(and to a lesser extent cowardice and disobedience
, applicable for military personnel). Almost all cases of capital punishment were tried by court-martial. Usually the executions were carried out by the regimental military police platoon, or by the local military police in the case of spies. One Finn, Toivo Koljonen
, was executed for a civilian crime (six murders). Most executions occurred in 1941 and during the Soviet Summer Offensive in 1944. The last death sentences were given in 1945 for murder, but later commuted to life imprisonment.
During World War II, on 24 September 1944, Josef Wende and Stephan Kortas, two Poles drafted into the German army, crossed the Moselle Rivers
behind U.S. lines in civilian clothes to observe Allied
strength and were to rejoin their own army on the same day. However, they were discovered by the Americans and arrested. On 18 October 1944 they were found guilty of espionage by a U.S. military commission
and sentenced to death.
On 11 November 1944 they were shot in the garden of a farmhouse at Toul
. The footage of Wende's execution
as well as Kortas's
is shown in these links.
Execution by firing squad is the capital punishment method used in Indonesia. The following persons were executed (reported by BBC World Service) by firing squad on 29 April 2015 following convictions for drug offences: two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran
and Andrew Chan
, the Ghanaian Martin Anderson, the Indonesian Zainal Abidin bin Mgs Mahmud Badarudin, three Nigerians: Raheem Agbaje Salami, Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze, as well as Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte
Following the 1916 Easter Rising
in Ireland, 15 of the 16 leaders who were executed were shot by British military authorities under martial law
. The executions have often been cited as a reason for how the Rising managed to galvanise public support in Ireland after the failed rebellion.
Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty
, a split in the government and the Dail led to a Civil War
during which the Free State Government sanctioned the executions by firing squad
of 81 persons. Included in those numbers were some prominent prisoners who were executed without trial as reprisals.
Italy had used the firing squad as its only form of death penalty, both for civilians and military, since the unification of the country in 1861. The death penalty was abolished completely by both Italian Houses of Parliament in 1889 but revived under the Italian dictatorship
of Benito Mussolini
in 1926. Mussolini was himself shot
in the last days of World War Two.
On 1 December 1945 Anton Dostler
, the first German general
to be tried for war crimes
, was executed by a U.S. firing squad in Aversa
after being found guilty by a U.S. military tribunal of ordering the killing of 15 U.S. prisoners of war in Italy during World War II.
The last execution took place on 4 March 1947, as Francesco La Barbera, Giovanni Puleo and Giovanni D'Ignoti, sentenced to death on multiple accounts of robbery and murder, faced the firing squad at the range of Basse di Stura, near Turin
. Soon after the Constitution of the newly proclaimed Republic
prohibited the death penalty except for some crimes, like high treason, during wartime; no one was sentenced to death after 1947. In 2007 the Constitution was amended to ban the death penalty altogether.
The British also used the practice briefly, and for the last time in 1813, when two men were shot separately outside the courthouse
after being convicted of failing to report their infection of plague
to the authorities.
Execution of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico
, by Édouard Manet
Firing-squad execution was the most common way to carry out a death sentence in Mexico, especially during the Mexican Revolution
and the Cristero War
. An example of that is in the attempted execution of Wenseslao Moguel
, who survived being shot ten times—once at point-blank range—because he fought under Pancho Villa
After these events, the death sentence was reduced to some events in Article 22 of the Mexican Constitution
; however, in 1917 capital punishment was abolished completely.
During the Nazi occupation in World War II some 3,000 persons were executed by German firing squads. The victims were sometimes sentenced by a military court; in other cases they were hostages or arbitrary pedestrians who were executed publicly to intimidate the population. After the attack on high-ranking German officer Hanns Albin Rauter
, about 300 people were executed publicly as reprisal against resistance movements. Rauter himself was executed near Scheveningen
on 12 January 1949, following his conviction for war crimes. Anton Mussert
, a DutchNazi
leader, was sentenced to death by firing squad and executed in the dunes near The Hague
on 7 May 1946.
was executed by firing squad on the morning of 30 December 1896, in what is now Rizal Park
, where his remains have since been placed.
During the Marcos
administration, drug trafficking was punishable by firing-squad execution, as was done to Lim Seng. Execution by firing squad was later replaced by the electric chair, then lethal injection. On 24 June 2006 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
abolished capital punishment by Republic Act 9346. Existing death row
inmates, who numbered in the thousands, were eventually given life sentences
or reclusion perpetua
In Tsarist Russia firing squads were, undoubtedly, used in the army, for executions during combat on the orders of military tribunals.
In the Soviet Union, from the very earliest days, the bullet to the back of the head, in front of a ready-dug burial trench was by far the most common practice. It became especially widely used during the Great Purge
United Arab Emirates
Execution by firing squad in the United Kingdom was limited to times of war, armed insurrection
and in the military
, although it is now outlawed in all circumstances, along with all other forms of capital punishment.
The Tower of London
was used during both World Wars for executions. During World War I, 11 captured German spies were shot between 1914 and 1916: 9 on the Tower's rifle range and 2 in the Tower Ditch, all of whom were buried in East London Cemetery
, in Plaistow
On 15 August 1941, the last execution at the Tower was that of German Cpl. Josef Jakobs
, shot for espionage during World War II.
The United States Army
took over Shepton Mallet prison
in 1942, renaming it Disciplinary Training Center No.1 and housing troops convicted of offences across Europe. There were eighteen executions at the prison, two of them by firing squad for murder: Pvt. Alexander Miranda on 30 May 1944 and Pvt. Benjamin Pygate on 28 November 1944. Locals complained about the noise, as the executions took place in the prison yard at 1:00am.
Since the 1960s, there has been some controversy concerning the 346 British and Imperial
troops—including 25 Canadians, 22 Irish and 5 New Zealanders—shot for desertion, murder, cowardice and other offences during World War I, some of whom are now thought to have been suffering from combat stress reaction
or post-traumatic stress disorder
("shell-shock", as it was then known). This led to organisations such as the Shot at Dawn Campaign being set up in later years to try to uncover just why these soldiers were executed.
The Shot at Dawn Memorial
was erected at Staffordshire
to honour these soldiers. In August 2006 it was announced that 306 of these soldiers would receive posthumous pardons.
Firing squad usage in the United States.
State uses this as a secondary method
State once used this method, but doesn't anymore
State has never used this method
State has considered using a firing squad
In the American Civil War
, 433 of the 573 men executed (186 of the 267 executed by the Union Army and 247 of the 306 executed by the Confederate Army) were shot by a firing squad.
Since 1960 there have been four executions by firing squad, all in Utah
: The 1960 execution of James W. Rodgers
, Gary Gilmore
's execution in 1977, and John Albert Taylor
in 1996, who chose a firing squad for his execution, according to The New York Times
, "to make a statement that Utah was sanctioning murder".
However, a 2010 article for the British newspaper The Times
quotes Taylor justifying his choice because he did not want to "flop around like a dying fish" during a lethal injection. Ronnie Lee Gardner
was executed by firing squad in 2010, having said he preferred this method of execution because of his "Mormon
heritage". Gardner also felt that lawmakers were trying to eliminate the firing squad, in opposition to popular opinion in Utah, because of concern over the state's image in the 2002 Winter Olympics
Execution by firing squad was banned in Utah in 2004, but as the ban was not retroactive
three inmates on Utah's death row
have the firing squad set as their method of execution. Idaho
banned execution by firing squad in 2009,
temporarily leaving Oklahoma
as the only state utilizing this method of execution (and only as a secondary method).
Reluctance by drug companies to see their drugs used to kill people has led to a shortage of the commonly used lethal injection drugs.
In March 2015, Utah enacted legislation allowing for execution by firing squad if the drugs they use are unavailable.
Several other states are also exploring a return to the firing squad.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor
argued in Arthur v. Dunn
(2017): "In addition to being near instant, death by shooting may also be comparatively painless. [...] And historically, the firing squad has yielded significantly fewer botched executions."
In February 2019, South Carolina's Senate voted 26–13 in favor of a revived proposal to bring back the electric chair
and add firing squads to its execution options.
Notes and references
- ^ "fusilade". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
- ^ Huie, William Bradford (1954). The Execution of Private Slovik. Duell, Sloan & Pearce. p. 208. ISBN 978-1594160035.
- ^ "Crime Library: Firing Squad". Crime Museum. 2016-05-25. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
- ^ Carver, Field Marshal Lord Michael (1999-11-12). Britain's Army in the Twentieth Century. ISBN 978-0330372008. Gas operated actions such as recoil depend on a high pressure state that only exists when the gas is trapped between the breech and the moving projectile. As there is no bullet in the blank, the recoil is greatly reduced.
- ^ "Procedure for Military Executions" (PDF). Department of the Army. December 1947. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
- ^ Westcott, Kathryn (June 18, 2010). "How and why Gardner was shot". BBC News.
- ^ a b Pallud, p. 15
- ^ "HD Stock Video Footage - Military police execute German spies in Belgium". Criticalpast.com. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ "Brazilian Laws - the Federal Constitution - Individual and collective rights and duties". V-brazil.com. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ a b "Cuban Firing Squad Executes Exile". The New York Times. 21 January 1992.
- ^ War Victims of Finland 1914–1922 at the Finnish National Archives
- ^ a b "Yliopisto-lehti". Helsingin yliopisto. June 6, 2016. Archived from the original on March 20, 2007.
- ^ Kuolemantuomio kuolemantuomiolle at Statistics Finland (in Finnish)
- ^ "FINLEX ® - Valtiosopimukset viitetietokanta: 7/1976". Finlex.fi. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ a b The Shot at Dawn Campaign Archived 2008-08-27 at the Wayback Machine The New Zealand government pardoned its troops in 2000; the British government in 1998 expressed sympathy for the executed and in 2006 the Secretary of State for Defence announced a full pardon for all 306 executed soldiers from the First World War.
- ^ a b The Daily Telegraph, Ben Fenton, August 16, 2006, accessed October 14, 2006
- ^ "Mata Hari is executed - Oct 15, 1917 - HISTORY.com". History.com. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ David Kahn (June 2000). Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence In World War II. Da Capo Press; 1 edition. p. 363. ISBN 0-3068-0949-4.
- ^ "HD Stock Video Footage - German spy Josef Wende is executed by U.S. Military Police firing squad in Toul, France, during World War II". Criticalpast.com. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ "HD Stock Video Footage - German spy Stephan Kortas is executed by Military Policemen and is carried away covered in white sheet in Toul France". Criticalpast.com. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ David Kahn (June 2000). Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence In World War II. Da Capo Press; 1 edition. p. 504 and 505. ISBN 0-3068-0949-4.
- ^ "Vichy leader executed for treason - Oct 15, 1945". History.com. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ "Pierre Laval : Biography". 3 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ "Judicial follow up of the assassination attempt of Petit-Clamart". fr.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- ^ Agus Maryono and Suherdjoko (June 28, 2008). "Nigerian drug smugglers buried a day after execution". The Jakarta Post.
- ^ "Bali bomb burials stoke tensions". BBC News. November 9, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
- ^ "British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford appeals Indonesia death sentence". Telegraph. 2013-02-11. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
- ^ Karishma Vaswani (2013-01-22). "BBC News — Bali drugs: Death sentence for Briton Lindsay Sandiford". M.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
- ^ "'At least a bullet is quick': British grandmother on death row in Indonesia for smuggling drugs prefers firing squad". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
- ^ "Fury as Indonesia executes foreigners by firing squad". AFP. 2015-01-18. Retrieved 2015-01-18.
- ^ English, R. Irish Freedom, (London, 2006), p. 264-276.
- ^ "BBC - History - Historic Figures: Benito Mussolini (1883-1945)". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ a b Attard, Edward (2002). Il-Piena Kapitali f'Malta u Pajjiżi Oħra (in Maltese). San Gwann, Malta: BDL Publishing. pp. 161–172. ISBN 978-99909-72-12-2. OCLC 254597108. Archived from the original on 2017-08-19.
- ^ a b c Known history of the Mexican Revolution
- ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2008-11-03.
- ^ "Dutch Nazi Executed," Amarillo Globe, May 7, 1946, p.1.
- ^ Chris Madsen (August 2006). "Victims of Circumstance" (PDF). Canadian Military History. Scholars.wlu.ca (CanadianMilitaryHistory.ca reprint). 2: Iss. 1, Article 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-04 – via Internet Archive. See: 13 May 1945 German deserter execution in Wikipedia.
- ^ Knudsen, Harald Franklin. I was Quisling's Secretary, Britons Publishing Co., 1967, p. 176
- ^ "Philippines 'restores' death penalty". BBC News. December 21, 2003. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- ^ Sun Star Cebu. 25 June 2006. Arroyo kills death law Archived June 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Emma Graham-Harrison. "'I'm still nervous,' says soldier who shot Nicolae Ceausescu | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-30.
- ^ Chapter 2, "Niyazov", in Lev Razgon, True Stories: Memoirs of a Survivor, Souvenir Press: London, 1999, pp. 21-34.
- ^ Ahmed, Mahmoud (6 June 2003). "The work of God". The Guardian.
- ^ Hubbard, Ben (18 October 2016). "Saudi Arabia Executes a Prince Convicted in a Fatal Shooting". Nytimes.com.
- ^ Laube, Lydia (1 January 1991). Behind the Veil: An Australian Nurse in Saudi Arabia. Wakefield Press. ISBN 9781862542679 – via Google Books.
- ^ Weston, Mark (28 July 2008). Prophets and Princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470182574 – via Google Books.
- ^ "Saudi Arabia Carries Out Largest Mass Execution Since 1980". Eurasiareview.com. 4 January 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- ^ United Arab Emirates (UAE): Death penalty, Archived October 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Amnesty International (Urgent Action), April 3, 2002.
- ^ "5 vulnerabilities to eliminate to protect your home from burglars". Archived from the original on 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
- ^ "Pardoned: the 306 soldiers shot at dawn for 'cowardice'". The Telegraph.
- ^ "Nevada State Prison Inmate Case Files: Andriza Mircovich". Nevada State Library and Archives. Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
- ^ "No One To Shoot Murderer" (PDF). The New York Times. August 12, 1912. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- ^ Cafferata, Patty (June 2010). "Capital Punishment Nevada Style". Nevada Lawyer. State Bar of Nevada. Archived from the original on July 18, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
- ^ Boese, Alex (2007). "Heartbeat at Death". Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 246–249. ISBN 9780156031356. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
- ^ "Firing Squad Executes Killer". The New York Times. 1996-01-27. Retrieved 2008-06-16.
- ^ Giles Whittell (2010-04-24). "Utah death row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner elects to die by firing squad". The Times. London.
- ^ Donaldson, Amy (1996-02-09). "Inmate threatens to sue if state won't let him die by firing squad". Deseret News. p. A1. Retrieved 2010-09-25.
- ^ "Methods of Execution". Death Penalty Information Center. 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- ^ Dobner, Jennifer (January 22, 2004). "Plan to abolish firing squad advances". Deseret News. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- ^ "Recent Legislative Activity". Death Penalty Information Center. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
- ^ Horne, Jennifer (2017). "Lethal Injection Drug Shortage". Council of State Governments. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- ^ "Why the execution drug shortage won't go away". Los Angeles Times. 2015-04-13. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- ^ Associated Press. "Firing squad gets final OK. So how does it work?" Salt Lake City Tribune (March 24, 2015).
- ^ "The Firing Squad Is Making a Comeback in Death Penalty Cases". US News. 2017-03-03. Archived from the original on 2017-03-03. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- ^ Arthur v. Dunn, U.S. Supreme Court Docket Number 16-602, Dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Part IV, section C (Supreme Court of the United States 21 February 2017).Text
- ^ "S 176 General Bill". www.scstatehouse.gov. South Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
- Moore, William, The Thin Yellow Line, Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1974
- Putkowski and Sykes, Shot at Dawn, Leo Cooper, 2006
- Hughs-Wilson, John and Corns, Cathryn M, Blindfold and Alone: British Military Executions in the Great War, Cassell, 2005
- Johnson, David, Executed at Dawn: The British Firing Squads of the First World War, History Press, 2015
Last edited on 27 April 2021, at 03:25
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