Guillotine Returns to Paris

On display at museum 33 years after last head rolled
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2010 11:22 AM CDT
Execution by guillotine in Paris during the French Revolution.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Some 33 years after the last head rolled in France, the guillotine is back—as a cutting-edge display item in a Paris museum exhibit about crime and punishment. The former instrument of death was displayed at the request of Robert Badinter, the politician who ended the death penalty in France, who was thrilled to see his "old enemy" reduced to a museum object.

But with France currently facing overcrowded prisons and high rates of recidivism, not everyone shares Badinter's view. "I think it's a shame this stops at 1981," one museum visitor told the Guardian. The 14-foot device had a long tradition in France, from the rolling heads of 18th-century revolutionaries to the final guillotine execution, in 1977, of convicted murderer-rapist Hamida Djandoubi in Marseille.

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