Sri Lanka was searching for a new hangman after the latest recruit got upset on seeing the gallows for the first time and quit, officials said yesterday.

The Prisons Department had appointed the new hangman, the third most qualified from 176 applicants, last week, months after the two executioners who were chosen late last year failed to show up for work.

“We gave him one week’s training, but he resigned after seeing the gallows, saying that he didn’t want the job,” Chandrarathna Pallegama, the commissioner-general of prisons, said.

“He told me that after seeing the gallows he got upset… Next time, we will show the gallows to the new recruits before giving them basic training.”

But it is not as if he would have been likely to hang anyone anyway. The job is light administrative work only.

The island nation has not carried out an execution since 1976, despite the fact that there are at least 405 convicts still on death row in the predominantly Buddhist country.

But an alarming rise in child abuse, rapes, murders, and drug trafficking in the country since the 25-year war against Tamil Tiger separatists ended in 2009 has prompted some lawyers and politicians to push for the death penalty to be reintroduced. – Reuters