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Execution by shooting is a form of capital punishment whereby an executed person is shot by one or more firearms. It is the most common method of execution worldwide, used in about 70 countries,[1] with execution by firing squad being one particular form. In most countries, execution by a firing squad has historically been considered a more honorable death and was used primarily for military personnel, though in some countries, single-executioner shooting is still in use.


Examples from the Soviet bloc

In 20th century communist states, shooting was a standard form of execution of civilians and military prisoners alike, with the Soviet Union setting an example of single-executioner approach. The firing squad, with its usual solemn and lengthy ceremony was used infrequently, with the most common method being the firing of a pistol bullet into the back of the head.

In East Germany, the preferred method was the so-called unerwarteter Nahschuss (unexpected shot at point-blank range). The convict was announced that his execution was imminent (″Ihre Erschießung steht unmittelbar bevor″) and executed immediately by headshot, while this announcement was still sinking in.

Often the phrase "execution by firing squad" is incorrectly used to translate the Russian term "расстрел" (rasstrel), which, in general, refers to any form of shooting, either by a single-executioner or a firing squad, regardless of method.

Examples from East Asia

  • In the People's Republic of China, shooting as a method of execution takes two typical formats, either an assault rifle shot in the back of the head or in the neck or a shot by an automatic rifle in the back from behind. It is also noted that in the past the government collected a "bullet fee"[1] from the relatives of the condemned.
  • In Taiwan, the customary method is a single shot aimed at the heart or at the brain stem, if the prisoner consents to organ donation. Prior to the execution, the prisoner is injected with strong anaesthetic to leave him completely senseless. (See Capital punishment in Taiwan)
  • In Mongolia, the method of execution today, inherited from Soviet legislation, remains a bullet to the neck.[2] (See Capital punishment in Mongolia)
  • In Thailand from 1934 until 19 October 2001, a single executioner would shoot the convict in the back from a mounted machine gun.[3][4][5]
  • In India, during the Mughal rule, soldiers who committed crimes were executed by being strapped to a cannon which was then fired. This method, invented by the Mughals, was continued by the British who used it to execute native deserters and mutineers, especially after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.[6]


  1. ^ a b Clark, Richard (2006). "Shot at dawn!". Capital Punishment U.K.. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  2. ^ “Le président mongol veut abolir la peine de mort”, Le Monde, January 14, 2009
  3. ^ Thailand Department of Corrections: Death Penalty
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Free Press - Independent News Media - International Issues
  6. ^ # ^ Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 Richard Holmes HarperCollins 2005


  • Zelitch, Judah. "Soviet Administration of Criminal Law". University of Pennsylvania Press, 1931

See also

External links

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