Execution of the Day – 2009 (part 24)

Let’s spare a thought this week for nine men who lost their lives fighting for a better world.

As we were cracking on with compiling this week’s chained gang, oil giant Shell hit the headlines. They’ve forked out a cool £10 mil’ to smooth over an incident in 1995, where nine ‘environmental activists’ were hanged in the African country of Nigeria.

Their crime? Daring to speak out against oil exploration. And they had every right. For they were members of the local Ogoni tribe who were decrying the damage oil companies were inflicting on the Niger Delta. The nine men were hanged following a dubious trial, based in ‘trumped up charges’, according to Reuters. This marked a sinister precedent in the bid for freedom of speech.

What poured oil over this inflammatory case was the inference that Shell had somehow colluded with the Nigerian government to have these men silenced. Of course the £ multi-billion company vehemently continues to deny any involvement.

However the family of one victim, Ken Saro-Wiwa took Shell to a New York court at the end of May 2009. News of an out-of-court settlement has just broken.

Timothy-McVeigh11 June 2001 – Timothy McVeigh
Way before Al Quaeda’s 9/11 massacre, home-grown vigilante Timothy McVeigh was behind America’s second deadliest bombing to date. But what makes a bloke so embittered that he feels compelled to commit mass murder?

Harry-Strauss12 June 1941 – Harry Strauss
In a serious cull of the gangs terrorising New York neighbourhoods, Harry Strauss was hauled in and executed for numerous murders. For his was a life devoted to death and crime. Strauss was known to his mates as ‘Pep’ or ‘Pittsburgh Phil’ and he was famed for murdering as many as 30 victims as a key member of the sinister Murder Inc.

13 June 1810 – Richard Jones & Melinda Mapson
Here’s an unusual one. Richard Jones was done for pretending to be someone else. The 34-year-old was imprisoned at Newgate and hanged for impersonation. Luckily for Rory Bremner, it’s no longer a criminal offence…

William-Palmer14 June 1856 – William Palmer
Brilliantly ironic quote of the week goes to dopey doc, William Palmer. When faced with the trapdoor of his scaffold, Palmer is said to have said ‘is it safe’! For Dr Palmer had been sentenced to death for his prolific propensity to poison for financial gain.

15 August 1963 – Eddie Mays
For every seven people executed in the US, one person is reprieved because they’re found to be innocent. That’s life according to the Death Penalty Information Center (sic) – and we know it’s hard to believe when you consider our site covers just a small fraction of the numbers who’ve had the death penalty.

George-Stinney16 June 1944 – George Stinney
Just 14 years old. That’s how old our next South Carolina target for execution was. George Junius Stinney Junior became the youngest person to be executed in the US during the 20th century. It is unclear whether he was actually guilty or whether it was lynch-mob mentality that ensured he was executed.

Eugen-Weidmann17 June 1939 – Eugène Weidmann
And the award for France’s last public execution goes to… Eugène Weidmann. The 31-year-old lost his head to Madame Guillotine after he committed multiple murders.

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