I realise that Laplace was executed ten months ago, but I'm bumping this thread to post the following article. If it's true, they certainly have an "interesting" albeit rather cruel way of conducting executions in St Kitts. The article was clearly written by an anti, but read all of the comments left by readers: there is near unanimous support for Laplace's execution.
____________Return of the noose: St Kitts has just hanged its first man for a decade and believes it is the only way to beat violent crime
By David Jones
Last updated at 8:49 AM on 12th January 2009
They came for the condemned man on the stroke of midnight. But for Charles Elroy Laplace there was no slap-up last supper of the type served on Death Row in America, nor the company of a reassuring pastor.
Instead, he was bound hand and foot and cast on to a grubby mattress in the corner of his fetid cell, then left for eight hours to contemplate his impending fate.
Paralysed and rendered incontinent with fear, Laplace lay there all night, begging the Lord for mercy and pleading for someone to call his mother or his lawyer - anyone who might save him at the last. Left: Part-time hangman Simeon Govia was paid £1,800 to despatch Charles Elroy Laplace (right) on the ancient wooden gallows
But his wretched entreaties were drowned out by the singing of his prison guards, who saw fit to celebrate his coming execution with a rum-fuelled 'gallows party' that lasted long into the small hours.
It was not until 8am the following morning that Laplace's torment was finally brought to an end.
As the death knell tolled in Her Majesty's Prison, Basseterre, capital of the Caribbean islands of St Kitts & Nevis, and a crowd gathered outside the forbidding crimson gates, he was frogmarched ten paces to an ancient wooden gallows inside the jail.
Built for multiple hangings, the gibbet had three separate nooses and Laplace's head was covered with a white hood and placed in one of them.
The 40-year-old bakery van driver just had time to wish his six children a happy life and mutter his forgiveness for the trial judge who had sentenced him to death, before the lever was thrust forward and the boards fell away beneath him.
Soon news of his execution spread through the island and his murdered wife's family raised a triumphal flag - then the rum began to flow again.
This probably sounds like some gruesome scene from the West Indies of bygone days, when ruthless white sugar plantation bosses routinely lynched their troublesome black serfs on these shores, often in public to set an example.
Yet although the gallows where Laplace was dispatched were, indeed, built in the mid-19th century, in fact this most unmerciful execution took place just three weeks ago.
The macabre ritual was described to me this week, with shockingly dispassionate candour, by the hangman who dispatched Laplace, a local character named Simeon Govia.
Unshaven and gaunt, Mr Govia, aged 47, is no master executioner in the Albert Pierrepoint mode, of that we can be sure.Paradise lost: There were 23 murders in St Kitts last year which has a population of just 46,000
In fact, he admits that he was hired because he has family ties to a senior prison official, performed his first execution after a five-minute 'lesson' from an officer, and had no idea what would happen until his victim fell.
Small wonder, for he usually makes his living by massaging British female tourists on the beaches of this supposedly idyllic volcanic outcrop (and bedding them where possible, he told me with a gap-toothed grin).
He claims he volunteered for the job of St Kitts official hangman - a role that has been vacant for ten years since the last execution was carried out here - because he believes passionately in 'an eye for an eye'.
However, as he charges just £30 for providing his sensual rub-downs and the government offered him a fee of £1,800 to dispatch Laplace, perhaps that was not the only reason why this roving gigolo was so keen to make a temporary career switch.
'That guy went as good as gold, man,' Mr Govia told me.
'He didn't whimper or holler. He was very brave and knew he had to go through with it. He didn't suffer, either. I pushed the lever and he was gone in an instant.'
Had he suffered nightmares the night before he did the deed?
'No man. The guards put me in a room and gave me a tot of whisky and nice food, and I slept sound. There are eight more guys on Death Row, and when they want me to hang the next one I'll be more than ready to oblige.'
That day will surely come very soon. For despite recent U.S. research suggesting that capital punishment is not an effective deterrent to murder, and a worldwide trend towards its abolition, senior politicians in St Kitts & Nevis are convinced it is the only effective answer to the violent crime epidemic sweeping the island.
A generation ago, murders were a rarity here. Now this tiny Commonwealth country - Britain's first colony in the Caribbean - is in the grip of a terrifying gang war which has made it, statistically, the murder capital of the world, with a record 23 killings last year among a population of just 46,000.
It is highly unlikely that Prime Minister Denzil Douglas will mention this unwanted distinction this morning when he makes a speech at the airport to welcome the first holidaymakers off the inaugural British Airways flight direct to St Kitts.
However, with the sugar industry having recently collapsed and the pair of islands - which measure just 23 miles long by five miles wide - now totally dependent on tourism, Mr Douglas is acutely aware that the murder of just one foreign visitor could spell disaster for the economy.The cane Harvest - but falling sugar prices has meant the tiny island has become more dependent on tourism
If he has any doubts as to its likely effects, he need only look to neighbouring Antigua, where empty hotel rooms and half-deserted beaches are the legacy of last summer's brutal shooting of Welsh honeymoon couple Ben and Catherine Mullany.
With the credit crunch taking a toll on winter bookings in the Caribbean, similar fears are gripping leading politicians throughout the crime-plagued West Indian archipelago.
And so, ignoring a clamour of protest led by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, they are dusting down gallows that have stood idle for decades, ready to resume hanging on a scale not seen since the most draconian days of British rule.
These former colonies are now fiercely independent nations, of course, but they have retained the British legal system, and although capital punishment for murder was finally abolished in their mother country 40 years ago, it has remained on their statute books.
Death sentences have therefore continued to be handed down for the most gruesome killings for many years - but they are often set aside by the Privy Council in London, which remains the final court of appeal for many Commonwealth countries.
For a variety of reasons, the Privy Council often rules capital punishment 'unconstitutional'.
And if defence lawyers can drag a case on for more than five years, hanging is commuted to life imprisonment on humanitarian grounds because the murderer is deemed to have suffered enough while waiting on Death Row.
Now, though, many Caribbean nations are sick of seeing their courts undermined by out-of-touch legal overlords in dusty chambers 4,000 miles away in London, and they are flexing their muscles.
Determined to deal with violent criminals in their own way, a few years ago they set up their own appeal court - the Caribbean Court of Justice - based in Trinidad.
The idea is that this will eventually replace the Privy Council as the islands' court of last resort, thus severing their last legal ties with Britain.Jamaica - another Caribbean idyll - has decided to keep capital punishment on its statute books because of its high murder rate
But the transitional process is dragging on interminably and in recent weeks, the pressure for draconian justice, Caribbean style, has been rapidly intensifying.
In Jamaica, whose population is barely bigger than that of Birmingham, but which last year suffered some 1,300 murders - twice as many as in the whole of Britain - the Senate has just voted to keep hanging on the statute books.
No one has been hanged there since 1988 but legal experts believe the drugs-related killing spree has reached such a critical point that it is sure to be resumed soon.
Meanwhile, on many smaller islands to which the violence is spreading like a fast-growing tumour, the clamour to bring back the noose grows louder by the day.
In St Vincent, for example, people are demanding the swift execution of Shorn Samuel, 35.
He was sentenced to hang a few weeks ago for lassoing a young woman as she waited at a bus stop, and beheading her with a cutlass, simply because she rejected his advances.
They are equally eager to string up Patrick Lovelace who was convicted of the abduction of 11-year-old Lokeisha Nanton.
He raped the little girl, then hanged her from a mango tree. (His conviction was overturned on a technicality, and his retrial begins on Tuesday).
'There is an overwhelming call here for capital punishment to be resumed,' St Vincent journalist Kirby Jackson says.
'There's a sense of frustration that we are bound by the Privy Council, which is seen as part of an outdated culture.
'Some people don't like hanging because of its historic connotations. They refer back to the Fifties and Sixties in the southern USA, when a lot of black people were wrongly hanged. But as a society we have moved on. We know what is right or wrong in the Caribbean and we are capable of deciding that for ourselves.''We must do something to stop the killing'
It is a sentiment I heard echoed in St Kitts repeatedly this week. Hearing about the subject I was researching, people have approached me in the streets to argue passionately for the right to hang criminals without foreign interference.
On his weekly radio phone-in show, Prime Minister Douglas insisted that he took 'no comfort' in the recent hanging of Laplace - whose lawyers apparently missed the deadline for an appeal to the Privy Council 'by mistake'.
It was simply a matter of allowing the law to take its course, he said solemnly. With an election looming, however, and the premier hoping to win a historic fourth term in office, he knows which way the wind is blowing.
Even the island's most senior criminal defence lawyer, Methodist pastor Reginald James, told me he would no longer represent convicted murderers after completing his current caseload, which includes an appeal for a pastor's son alleged to have murdered his sister-in-law.
'We have never had so many killings on this island and we must do something to stop it,' lamented the 68-year-old barrister, adding that as a Christian and patriot, his conscience no longer allowed him to fight to spare murderers from the gallows.
Disgorged from the giant cruiseships which dock in Basseterre's scenic harbour for a few hours' shopping and sightseeing, day visitors may still believe they really have landed in 'paradise'.
If they were rash enough to venture a few hundred yards up the hill, to marijuana-scented ghettoes like that around Westbourne Street, however, they would glimpse a very different place.
Here, gangs who pathetically model themselves on the Crips and Bloods of Southside Los Angeles - even wearing their blue and red colours - are embroiled in a turf war the viciousness of which makes inner-city Britain seem positively tranquil.
'Hanging won't stop nothing. You check?' one man who called himself Bugie told me indolently.
'It'll just make people do their killing cleaner so they don't get caught.''My son should not have died'
Business owners are so fearful of these characters that they close shops and offices early to leave for home before the sun sets.
'It's not just that there's crime here - it is the fact it's all so vindictive,' says Lucille Rawlins, a 52-year-old Birmingham woman whose parents emigrated to Britain from St Kitts in the Fifties, and who came to live here four years ago.
Mrs Rawlins was hoping for a tranquil life here only to be brutally mugged.
She and her Kittitian husband are now planning to return to the comparative safety of the West Midlands.
On Wednesday another British expat, in his 60s, also required hospital treatment after being beaten by three youths during a robbery at his home in beautiful Frigate Bay.
In desperation the government have just hired a new 'crimebuster', recently retired FBI chief Mark Mershon, who achieved considerable success in fighting the gangs in Oakland, California.
In a refrain familiar to many in Britain, Mr Mershon largely attributes the moral degeneration of St Kitts to the breakdown of family life and the rise in the number of single mothers.
He has come armed with an impressive action plan and bravely promises a reduction in the murder rate this year.
Until he gets results, however, Kittitians will pin their faith on the perceived deterrent effect of the rope.
Charles Laplace was no gangster - if we believe his mother, Naomi Williams.
He was a 'quiet home-boy' turned temporarily insane by his wife Dian's infidelity.
'My son should not have died,' she told me, weeping.
'They hanged him out of spite. When I heard they were going to hang him I walked to the Governor General's house and begged him to spare my son but he just said he could do nothing. There were all those other criminals. Why did they have to pick on him?'
The answer, though no one will admit as much, is that the government felt the need to make a public statement of intent, and his was the easiest case.
I am assured by well-placed officials that it won't be the last.
Who, then, will be next to mount the gallows in HMP Basseterre? In the rum houses this week, various names were being touted, including Warrington Phillip, aged 40 - once a local cricket hero who almost made the West Indies test team. He was recently convicted of slashing the throat of his wife, Shermel.
According to well-informed sources, the most likely candidate for the gallows is Romeo 'Buncum' Cannonier, a fearsome criminal for whom many islanders believe hanging to be far too lenient.
In 2004, the hulking 'Buncum' shot dead a police officer who had the temerity to walk through his 'manor' at the lonely northern end of St Kitts.
He was duly arrested but from his prison cell he ordered a 'hit' on the informant whose evidence placed him behind bars.
However, locals maintain that he evaded conviction for his most nauseating crime.
He is said to have abducted a young mother and held her as his sex slave in a disused house for days before strangling her. He reputedly buried her two-year-old daughter alive.
The investigation was appallingly mishandled - which is not uncommon here - and so on that occasion, Cannonier, who is in his mid-30s and whose father was hanged for some half-remembered murder, swaggered to freedom.
The authorities are said to be determined that he won't cheat justice a second time.
Whether his hanging - if it takes places - will stem the bloody tide of murders in paradise remains to be seen, though given that three people were shot just a day after the authorities made an example of Charles Laplace, it seems unlikely.
In the final analysis, perhaps the only real winner will be Simeon Govia, the gigolo hangman.
In the Caribbean islands the price of life may be all too cheap these days - but £1,800 a go is still mighty good money.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1110973/Return-noose-St-Kitts-just-hanged-man-decade-believes-way-beat-violent-crime.html
I just googled the name of the hangman, Simeon Govia, and found this on the website
of the St Kitts and Nevis Police Force:"Simeon Govia of Christ Church was arrested and charged for wounding with intent. Offence was committed on May 5th 2009."
I can't imagine that there is more than one Simeon Govia on an island of 43,000 people, which means that Govia, if subsequently convicted of wounding with intent, will now have a criminal record. I would imagine that means that he has lost his job as a hangman because the government would not allow a criminal to conduct executions, so there is now a job vacancy!
Pack your bags, Bruce, because we're going on holiday! Don't forget to bring your Desert Eagle, as it sounds like we'll need some good firepower to hand.