Sri Lanka hasn't executed anyone since 1976, but it still has an official hangman ready if it ever decides to start up again. Or at least, it did. In the last year, three men have come and gone from the position, the last of which resigned this week after seeing the gallows in which he might have to work.
Sri Lanka's Commissioner-General of Prisons Chandrarathna Pallegama told the BBC that the man, who hasn't been named, was several days into training when he was "shocked and afraid" by the sight of the gallows. He then resigned, though he's been given a month to reconsider.
"With this chap leaving, we are now in a quandary," Pallegama told the AFP. "I think we will have to look for a new hangman."
The last two executioners were on the job only briefly when they stopped showing up for work last year. Before that, the position had been open for three years after the previous executioner was promoted to prison guard. He never had to carry out an execution, though there are over 400 prisoners on Sri Lanka's death row.
India had a similar hangman search in 2011, after its official executioner died.
Last year, one of Virginia's official executioners talked to the Guardian about his job. Unlike Sri Lanka's last executioner, he killed 62 people.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.