# Judge and thief puzzle

A thief is convicted in Mexico. He gets the death penalty. The judge allows him to say a last sentence in order to determine the way the penalty will be carried out. If the thief lies, he will be hanged, if he speaks the truth he will be beheaded.

The thief speaks a last sentence and to everybody surprise some minutes later he is set free because the judge cannot determine his penalty.

What did the thief said?

The “**Expected Answer**” seems to be a classic case of putting the judge in a paradox – by stating the ‘false’ side of the condition. (i.e., in the present case, **tell that he will be hanged** (which is equated with a ‘wrong’ answer).)

However, the statement of the puzzle has a flaw: It says “If the thief **lies**, he will be hanged”. A statement can be classified as a **LIE** if and only if it can be proven that the person who made the statement was aware of the TRUTH but had deliberately given the wrong statement. e.g. Consider the statement below:

**Mr. George W. Bush was the 41st President of the USA**.

This statement CAN’T be termed as a ‘**LIE**‘ (even though it is factually incorrect) unless it can be proven that the person who made the statement was *aware* that it was *wrong* and had deliberately made the wrong statement (for whatever reason). Otherwise, it can only be treated as a ** wrong **statement (which might have been made because the person who made the statement was not aware of the fact).

In the current case, the thief doesn’t know whether he will be hanged or beheaded. So, whatever he might say about the manner of his death can’t be treated as a “LIE”. So, the “if he *lies*” part of the puzzle statement doesn’t fit.

The thief says that he will be hanged.

If it was the truth, he would be beheaded but that will make the statement false. But then if the statement was false than he will he hanged which then makes the statement true.

This is one of my favorites riddles of all time. I first discovered this in a book series named Deltora Quest. Absolutely loved it.

### Your Answer

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