Botswana defies outcry from human rights group, executes murderer

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Botswana on Monday hanged a 44-year-old man for murdering his boss, prison services announced, despite mounting criticism from rights groups and the European Union.

Mooketsi Kgosibodiba was hanged at Gaborone Central Prison "in the early morning hours", the prison said, in the first execution since President Mokgweetsi Masisi was elected to office in October.

In 2017, Kgosibodiba received a death sentence for the 2012 murder of his employer and his appeal was dismissed last year.

The death penalty in Botswana has been enforced since independence in 1966.

Two other people were hanged last year in the face of global condemnation with human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) describing Botswana as the "only country in Southern Africa that consistently executes people".

'Change course on executions'

"There is no space for the death penalty in a country like Botswana," said AI's Deprose Muchena after Masisi's election.

Muchena praised Botswana's "great leadership role" in "denouncing impunity for human rights violations on the African continent" and encouraged the new government to change course on executions.

Masisi's predecessor Ian Khama said last year that the death penalty was one tool to combat a rising murder rate and added that the government had "no plans to either abolish the death penalty or impose a moratorium".

Executions across the world dropped by almost one-third in 2018 to the lowest figure in a decade, AI said.

The organisation added that executions are often undertaken without prior notice - with even family members of the condemned notified only after the execution.

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