Cruel and Unusual

I have another 'animals weirdly being involved in law' post! I found this story on Futility Closet here. The original source was The Percy Anecdotes, 1821. It depicts an account of a torture and execution by elephant at Baroda, India, 1814. This picture should amply prepare you for the text. It's pretty horrible, so if you have triggers for torture, don't read.


“The man was a slave, and two days before had murdered his master, brother to a native chieftain, called Ameer Sahib. About eleven o’clock the elephant was brought out, with only the driver on his back, surrounded by natives with bamboos in their hands.

"The criminal was placed three yards behind on the ground, his legs tied by three ropes, which were fastened to a ring on the right hind leg of the animal. At every step the elephant took, it jerked him forward, and every eight or ten steps must have dislocated another limb, for they were loose and broken when the elephant had proceeded five hundred yards.

"The man, though covered in mud, showed every sign of life, and seemed to be in the most excruciating torments. After having been tortured in this manner for about an hour, he was taken to the outside of the town, when the elephant, which is instructed for such purposes, was backed, and put his foot on the head of the criminal."

Guys, what I find so intensely messed up is not so much the torture and method of death itself (which, don't misunderstand me, is all kinds of wrong), but rather that it was done so frequently they had to train an elephant specifically for this purpose. If you need an execution elephant, perhaps your meting of justice is too elaborate. Just sayin'.

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