Brewing Killer Cocktails in Vietnam

By Brian Anderson

Lethal doses of sodium thiopental at a US execution chamber (via)

The syringes sit empty, ready for filling. The staff have all been trained, and are standing by. On Vietnam's death row, everything is set for carrying out hundreds of lethal injections but for one critical ingredient--poison.

Vietnam's supply of execution-strength, three-stage drugs has run dry. Hanoi could look to Germany, a major supplier of sodium thiopental, a powerful anesthetic commonly used in lethal injections, to fill its needles. But Germany has recently heeded calls to block exports of the stuff. And seeing as enabling capital punishment is already considered unethical across the EU, the southeast Asian country, where more than 500 people currently sit on death row on drug trafficking, corruption, and rape charges, has announced that it's moving forward in producing its own execution cocktails.

The irony is grim. For years Vietnam lost sleep over having to force innocent men into the unfortunate position of mowing down the condemned of death row, to the point that it put an end to firing squads in 2011 out of sensitivity to executioners. (Gunmen would get blitzed on cheap beer afterwards to decompress and wash away the anguish.) In a place so dismissive of the rights of those facing state-sponsored death, no matter the charges, a quick stick of a syringe seems so much less psychological taxing on poor death squads than pumping off rifles.

Read the rest over at the new Motherboard.VICE.com.

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