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France's final guillotine: 40 years since the end of the death penalty

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France's final guillotine: 40 years since the end of the death penalty

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On September 10, 1977, 40 years ago this week, France conducted its last execution. Four years later capital punishment was abolished, thus ending the reign of the guillotine.

The man who was executed was Tunisian immigrant, Hamida Djandoubi. He was found guilty of torturing and killing a woman in Marseilles, France.

It’s said that he lit her on fire, then strangled her and left her body in the countryside.

Djandoubi was believed to have been a depressed man who had lost part of his leg in an accident.

The case generated a great deal of attention throughout France. But despite Djandoubi’s confession, the jury determined that there were no extenuating circumstances and he would go to the guillotine.

Over the centuries, there were many versions of execution, but the most infamous was the French guillotine.

The first person to have his head chopped off was highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier in 1792.

The execution was considered to be a success and the guillotine was continued to be used on political prisoners, the highest profile being King Louis XVI on January 21, 1793.

During the “Reign of Terror” from 1793 to 1794 the guillotine was taking heads sometimes at a rate of 300 a day.

The last public execution by guillotine was in 1939.

Djandoubi was the last execution, earning himself a place in history.