The condemned man, named Balal, stood on a chair, a noose around his neck, a large crowd watching and waiting in the Iranian town of Nowshahr. A woman approached the gallows and slapped Balal in the face. Her husband came up and began removing the noose. There would be no hanging, and the condemned man would go free.
- Iran Executes Poet for 'Waging War on God'
- U.K.: No Change in Iran's Human Rights
- Law Bans Iranian Envoy From U.S.
The man and woman who spared Balal's life are the parents of the young man he stabbed to death seven years ago, The National reported Thursday, citing a report in the Iranian newspaper Shargh.
"The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down. Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved,” said the mother, Samereh Alinejad.
The incident took place Tuesday morning, the culmination of a rare successful public campaign in Iran to save the life of a man sentenced to death. Since the start of this year, more than 170 people have been hanged in the Islamic republic for murder and an array of other capital offenses.
Under Iran's application of Sharia, or Islamic law, the life of a person sentenced to hang can be spared by the victim's family in return for so-called blood money.
Balal killed Abdollah Hossainzadeh, 18, in a street fight in 2007. Alinejad, the victim's mother, explained her decision to spare her son's murderer: “I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place. ... After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer.”
After Alinejad stopped the hanging, the condemned man's mother rushed to the gallows and the two mothers embraced, sobbing.
Three years after the murder, Alinejad lost her younger son in a motorcycle accident. She asked the spectators if they knew "how difficult it is to live in an empty house."