It is reported that there was much consternation among the prisoners who were in the chapel ward no: 3 of the Welikada Prison last morning (26) on being told that capital punishment was to be implemented again after 43 years.
It was reported that the demeaner of many such prisoners had changed after hearing the bad news and that they were suffering from stress.
Prison officials complained that most of the prisoners on death row were not eating and some were even feeling faintish after earlier leading a fairly satisfactory prison life and even being allowed to watch TV.
According to prison reports, there are 455 persons who had been given the death sentence who were presently in being held in several prisons including Welikada.
A list of 18 prisoners has been sent the President in July last year after a statement issued by the President that the capital punishment would be re-introduced to punish who had been imprisoned for drug trafficking.
A inkling of things to come was felt when the 29 prison wards were revamped and about 100 prisoners who were housed in chapel ward No C3, who qualified for capital punishment were suddenly transferred to Boossa and Watareka Prisons last week.
An order has been issued to ready the equipment used to hang criminals and an inspection was held by the higher authorities in the prison system to check the scaffoldings etc..
The Ministry of Justice revealed that they had the names of 26 persons who were on the list of applicants for the posts of executioners and the marks obtained by them had also been received by them. A one-day workshop was held on June 11 to fill the two vacancies of executioners.
A spokesman for the Prison Headquarters said that the two names of executioners selected have not been published so far.
A resident of Tissamaharama named H.K. Chandradasa alias Honda Papuwa was the last executed man at the Welikada Prison on 23rd of July 1976. (Jayantha Samarakoon)