Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/628

This page needs to be proofread.




based on the Roman-Dutch law, and not on the English common law. Capital punishment is there lawful for treason (crimen perduellionis or laesse majestatis), murder and rape (van Leeuwen, c. 36). Though the RomanDutch modes of executing the sentence by decapitation or breaking on the wheel have not been formally abolished, in practice the sentence is executed by hanging. The RomanDutch law as to crime and punishments has been superseded in Ceylon and British Guiana by ordinances based on the English system. Under the Canadian Criminal Code of 1892 the death sentence may be imposed for treason (§ 657), murder (§ 231), rape (§ 267), piracy with violence (§ 127), and upon subjects of a friendly power who levy war on the king in Canada (§ 68). But the judge is bound by statute to report on all death sentences, and the date of execution is fixed so as to give time for considering the report. The sentence is executed by hanging within a prison, and under conditions very similar to those in England (§§ 936-945). Austria-Hungary.—Under the Austrian Penal Code sentence of death may be passed, inter alia, for the graver forms of high treason, for murder, robbery with violence causing death, incendiarism or damage to trains, steamers, Ac., causing death. The sentence is carried out by public hanging, supplemented, if ineffectual, by the hands of the executioner. It is very rarely executed. The criminal law of Hungary embodied in a code of 1885 has not abolished capital punishment. Belgium.—Under the Belgian Penal Code of 1867 the death penalty is retained for certain forms of high treason, and for assassination and parricide by poisoning. It may not be pronounced on a person under 18. The sentence is executed publicly by the guillotine. But no execution seems to have taken place since 1863. Denmark.—Sentence of death used to be executed by the axe; the guillotine is now used. Finland.—In Finland the death penalty is alleged not to have been inflicted since 1824; and it is said to have been abolished in 1826. France.—Under the ancien regime in France, 115 crimes had become capital in 1789. The mode of execution varied, but in some cases it was effected by breaking on the wheel or burning, and was coupled with mutilation. Under the Penal Code of 1810, as amended in or after 1832, even so late as 1871, thirty ofiences were capital, one being perjury against a prisoner resulting in his condemnation to death (art. 361). But juries freely exercise the power of acquitting in capital cases, or of defeating the capital sentence by finding extenuating circumstances in more than seven-eighths of the cases, which compels the court to reduce the punishment by one or more degrees, i.e., below the penalty of death. The sentence is executed in public by decapitation by the guillotine. Germany.—In many of the states of Germany capital punishment had been abolished (Brunswick, Coburg, Nassau, Oldenburg in 1849; Saxe-Meiningen, SaxeWeimar, 1862; Baden, 1863; Saxony, 1868). But it has been restored by the Imperial Criminal Code of 1872, in the case of attempts on the life of the emperor, or of the sovereign of any federal state in which the offender happens to be (§ 80), and for deliberate homicide (§211). The various states are allowed to choose their own instruments of death. In the old provinces of Prussia it is the axe. In Rhenish Prussia and the kingdom of Saxony the guillotine is used. Executions were public till 1851, but they are now conducted privately within the prison walls in the presence of certain specified persons. Holland.—In Holland there have been no executions since 1860. The death penalty was abolished in 1870, and was not reintroduced in the Penal Code of 1886.

The mode of execution used to be by hanging, as in England. Italy.—Capital punishment was abolished in Tuscany as far back as 1786, and from Italy has come the chief opposition to the death penalty originated by Beccaria, and supported by many eminent jurists. Under the Penal Code of 1888 the death penalty was abrogated for all crimes, even for regicide. The cases of homicide in Italy are very numerous compared with those in England; but there are no statistics available to show any connexion between this fact and the abolition of capital punishment. Japan.-—The penalty of death is executed by hanging within a prison. It may be imposed for executing or contriving acts of violence against the Mikado or certain of his family, and for seditious violence with the object of seizing the territory or subverting the government or laws of Japan, or conspiring with foreign Powers to commence hostilities against Japan. It is inflicted for certain forms of homicide, substantially wilful murder in the first degree. Norway.—Under Norwegian law sentence of death may be passed for murder with premeditation. But the court may as an alternative decree penal servitude for life. Sentence of death must be passed in cases where a person under sentence of penal servitude for life commits murder or culpable homicide, or causes bodily injuries in circumstances warranting a sentence of penal servitude for life, or commits robbery or the grave forms of wilful fireraising. The sentence is carried out by decapitation; but there has been no execution since 1876. Portugal.—There has been considerable objection in Portugal to capital punishment, and it is said to have been abolished in 1867. No one has been executed since 1846. Rumania. — Capital punishment was abolished in Rumania in 1864. Russia.-—in 1750 under the Empress Elizabeth capital punishment was abolished; but it has since been restored, and is certainly inflicted for forms of high treason and attempts against the royal family, and breaking the quarantine laws for keeping out plague. It is difficult to ascertain whether it applies to other forms of crime; but it would seem that persons are put to death for some of the grave forms of homicide. The sentence is executed by shooting, beheading, or hanging. Spain.—Under the Spanish Penal Code of 1870 the following crimes are capital: inducing a foreign power to declare war against Spain, killing the sovereign, parricide, and assassination. The sentence is executed in public. The criminal is conducted to the scaffold on horseback or in a cart, wearing a black tunic. A procession of priests, &c., attends him. He is seated on a scaffold and executed by the garrotte, i.e., he is fastened to an upright post by an iron collar, and a knob worked by a screw or lever dislocates his spinal column, or a small blade severs the spinal column at the base of the brain. Siveden.—The severity of the law in Sweden was greatly mitigated so far back as 1777. Under the present law the penalty of death may be imposed for certain forms of treason, including attempts on the life of the sovereign oi on the independence of Sweden, or its union with Norway, and for premeditated homicide (assassinat), and in certain cases for offences committed by persons under sentence of imprisonment for life. Under a royal decree of 1877 it is executed by decapitation within the walls of a prison in the presence of certain officials and, if desired, of representatives of the commune in which the prison is situate. It is rarely executed, but in 1901 a man was beheaded for running amuck on a steamboat and killing and wounding a dozen people, and in 1901 a Bill to abolish capital punishment was rejected by both Houses of the Swedish I Parliament.