Crowds gathered in huge numbers to witness public executions. Tickets were sold for viewing. Vendors sold food and drinks. People bought souvernirs. It was like modern-day concert or carnival.
Many kingdoms regularly scheduled public executions to draw people’s attention away from their woes, away from gloomy economy ailing the country, or take their attention away from a scandal, etc. And it looks like gladiator games and public executions helped the kings stay in power distracting the people from real issues.
We in India continue to hand out death sentence as punishment, applying it only to the cases of ‘rarest of rare’ and yet, the Supreme Court while awarding death sentence to Afzal Guru admits the following:
According to me, this verdict and this hanging sets a bad precedent. Shall we convict a person because the majority bays for his blood? Or should acquit him because the majority pardons him?