Majority in US, Mexico would execute bin Laden


Fri, Apr 27, 2007 - Page 7

The bulk of US citizens and a slim majority in Mexico want Osama bin Laden executed if caught, but most people in seven other countries would rather the al-Qaeda chief spend life or many years in prison, an AP-Ipsos poll says.

In all nine nations surveyed, markedly more people would choose the death penalty for the al-Qaeda leader than for run-of-the-mill murderers, even in nations with little taste for capital punishment.

Of the nine countries polled, only the US and South Korea have the death penalty.

The poll underscores stark differences between the US and many of its allies over the death penalty at a time when US treatment of terror-war detainees, some of whom could face execution, has been a major irritant in their relations.

Given a choice of capital punishment for bin Laden or imprisonment, 62 percent in the US supported executing him, while 36 percent chose prison.

More than one-third of those preferring life imprisonment over the death penalty for convicted murderers said they would support bin Laden's execution.

Only in Mexico, where people chose the death penalty over prison for bin Laden by 54 percent to 35 percent, did sentiment run close to that in the US.

Opinion ran strongly toward prison in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Spain, in some cases by more than two-to-one margins.

In the US, support for executing bin Laden ran 10 percentage points higher than for common murderers.

Women were likelier than men to favor life imprisonment over the death penalty for murderers in most countries surveyed.

Support for capital punishment was also lower among people who are better educated and among young respondents.