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Tuesday, June 8, 1999 Published at 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK

World: Americas

Trinidad hangings completed

Chadee (right): Hanged along with two fellow gang members

The authorities in Trinidad have put to death the last three members of a gang notorious for drug-related crime.

It brings to nine the number of gang members to be hanged in the past four days.

Joel Ramsingh was hanged at daybreak on Monday, and fellow members Stephen Eversley and Bhagwandeen Singh were hanged later in the day.

Gang leader and reputed drugs lord, Dole Chadee, was hanged with two others on Friday.

They were the first convicts to be executed in Trinidad for five years. Three others were executed on Saturday.

The men were convicted of the brutal killing of a former member of the gang who wanted to leave, along with members of his family.

Appeals rejected

The Trinidad authorities rejected all pleas for clemency, arguing that hanging was a deterrent against crime.

The executions took place after the UK Privy Council - the supreme legal body for former British colonies in the Carribean - dropped its objection to capital punishment on the grounds that it was cruel and inhumane punishment.

The decision in London has set the mechanism in motion for another former colony, Jamaica, to execute its first convicted killer in 11 years.

A death warrant was read last week for Joseph Thomas, convicted in 1996 of murdering a Kingston bus operator and his employee during a robbery.

The Trinidad executions were followed closely by other Caribbean nations which have been trying unsuccessfully to implement the death penalty in the cases of dozens of convicted killers waiting on Death Row.

Popular punishment

Correspondents say it is a punishment that has wide support among politicians and the general public as a means of dealing with the high levels of violent crime in the region.

In the heavily guarded Royal Jail in Port of Spain, all the nine condemned were read death warrants last week for an unprecedented third time.

The international human rights group, Amnesty International, submitted a petition urging Trinidad and Tobago's President Arthur Robinson to "exercise the prerogative of mercy" and halt the hangings.

The petition is signed by more than 100 people, including Nobel Peace Prize winners Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

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