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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Utah recruits firing squad
Generic US prison interior
Only three US states allow use of firing squads
Officials in the US state of Utah are recruiting a firing squad after two death row convicts invoked their right to be executed by marksmen.

Utah is one of just three American states where execution by a team of riflemen is available as an alternative to lethal injection or electrocution.

The state's Correction Department is looking for "responsible people" from police forces in the areas where the two murderers committed their crimes, to form the firing squad.

Campaigners against the death penalty said condemned men sometimes elected to be shot to highlight the barbaric nature of capital punishment.

But this does not seem to be the case here, the New York Times reported.

Troy Kell - a white supremacist who killed a black prison inmate in 1994 - requested a firing squad only because he did not like the idea of poison running through his veins.

Roberto Arguelles - who sexually assaulted and killed three teenage girls and a 42-year-old woman in 1992 - did not give any reason for his decision, the newspaper said.

Choice of fate

Kell's execution was set for 27 June, but he has undertaken appeals that are likely to delay his appearance before the firing squad. Arguelles is set to be shot on 28 June.

Since the United States Supreme Court allowed reinstatement of capital punishment in Utah in 1976, two out of six prisoners put to death there have chosen to die by firing squad.

Besides Utah, only Idaho and Oklahoma allow riflemen to be used in executions, and only Utah allows the condemned person to make the choice.

Oklahoma law allows use of a firing squad if lethal injection and electrocution are ruled unconstitutional. Idaho permits it when lethal injection is found to be "impractical".

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