Public Execution (by Hanging) in Aleppo
Three men were supposedly set to be executed in a public square this morning.
Being that such a thing is a part of Syrian culture, and one hell of a random opportunity to witness said culture, I felt compelled to attend.
The last public execution to take place in the city was back in October 2007, where apparently a group of kids (five, aged 18–23) were running around robbing and slitting the throats of taxi drivers.
These things used to be large, public displays under the prior presidency, but his son (and current successor) feels somewhat differently. Hangings are done at an inconvenient time of the morning for most, though the bodies are supposedly still left on display for two hours after the event.
Regardless, the message still rings clear for locals: Justice is swift and sever for those that take lives.
As a result, supposedly this county enjoys a higher degree of safety from such things than its neighbors. Whether this is true or not is up for debate, though Syria's 73.6% literacy rate for women over age 15 doesn't instill much faith in any system they've got in place (yeesh, statistically, over 1 out of every 4 women encountered here will be illiterate!).
But I digress, back to the hanging…
Three men were caught on a security camera in a botched jewelry store robbery (which I've obtained footage of and have included below).
One of the three robbers had an automatic rifle, and when the store clerk foolishly hit the gate button for the storefront the gunman panicked and opened fire at close range, killing him. Then, for some reason, we see the same man shooting into the street (or at the gate?), where he killed a second person. Later, the three would be implicated in the death of the taxi driver that had driven them away from the scene.
It took only 72 hours between the time that all three were caught (on the same day), judged, and sentenced to death.
( video: 2009 Aleppo Gunmen )
The execution was supposedly to be at 5:00 a.m. sharp, in the cold twilight hours just after dawn.
I got up at 4:25 to get to the square (dressing in warm clothing and concealing my face), only to find that no one was there. There was some debate regarding the date of this thing between my people here—some said today, others tomorrow, then came this mention of 'next week'. Maybe I wasn't even the right location for the spectacle, I was just going off the information passed to people I knew from the Syrians they knew.
Whatever the deal is, I'll be leaving the city tomorrow morning, unable to attend regardless of when it's actually scheduled. How disappointing.