Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Extraordinary scenes as mother saves her son's killer from the noose

arash-khamooshi-42.jpg
arash-khamooshi-50.jpg
arash-khamooshi-56.jpg

A photographer has captured the incredible moment a mother saved her teenage son's killer from the noose, just moments before he was due to be hung for murder in Iran.

The photos show the terrified man - known only as Balal - being pushed towards the gallows with a rope around his neck, in one of the many public executions that take place in the Islamic republic.

Under the rules of qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim's family were to push the chair on which Balal was balancing, in order to trigger the execution by hanging.

But in a rare move, the family instead chose to spare his life.

According to a report in the Guardian, Balal was seconds away from being executed when the victim's mother stepped forward, slapped him in the face and then forgave him for his crime.

Photo: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

In emotional scenes, the victim's father removed the noose from around the neck of Balal. Balal's mother then rushed forward to embrace the mother of her son's 18-year-old victim.

Both women were sobbing; one because she had lost her son and the other, because her son had been saved.

The extraordinary sequence of events was captured by Arash Khamooshi, of Iran's Isna news agency.

Photo: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

Balal, who is in his 20s, was convicted of stabbing Abdollah Hosseinzadeh to death during a street brawl in the northern town of Royan six years ago.

"My 18-year-old son Abdollah was taking a stroll in the bazaar with his friends when Balal shoved him," said the victim's father, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, according to Isna news agency. "Abdollah was offended and kicked him but at this time the murderer took an ordinary kitchen knife out of his socks."

The victim's family believed that Balal had not meant to kill their son. "Balal was inexperienced and didn't know how to handle a knife. He was naive," said the father.

Photo: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

The family decided to forgive Balal and save his life because of a dream the victim's mother experienced, several days before the execution.

The decision became all the more honorable in light of the fact that the family also lost their younger son in a motorbike accident aged 11.

"Three days ago my wife saw my elder son in a dream telling her that they [the sons] are in a good place, and for her not to retaliate … This calmed my wife and we decided to think more until the day of the execution," Hosseinzadeh said.

The move by the victim's family saves Balal from execution rather than prison time, and it's not yet clear whether he will remain behind bars.

Photo: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

Iran has one of the worst human rights records in the world when it comes to public executions, which are usually carried out using cranes that lift the condemned person by a noose around the neck in front of a crowd of spectators. They are typically conducted in unregulated settings, and children are often present.

Amnesty International voiced its alarm over a surge of executions in the country at the beginning of this year, with 33 carried out in just one week.

At least 369 people were put to death in the country last year (a figure that is topped only by China), although Amnesty and other organisations have raised concerns that more executions are taking place in secret, with trials carried out behind closed doors.

"In Iran drug-related offences are tried in Revolutionary Courts which routinely fall far short of international fair trial standards. The reality in Iran is that people are being ruthlessly sentenced to death after unfair trials, and this is unacceptable," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features

Related

jacalyn-beales-read.jpg

Hidden reading space around London: the best, most peaceful spots for you and your book

rexfeatures-3033892ai.jpg

Mad Men's Christina Hendricks reveals her non-redhead past

hero-5.jpg

The top 10 chocolate recipes for leftover Easter eggs

HERO.jpg

The world's most influential women

rexfeatures-2586045d.jpg

Britain's most incredible sheds

hero.jpg

"I don't deserve to be raped": women of Brazil unite in viral campaign

More

We really need to talk about what happened on Bake Off

We’re going to need a moment to process this

by Amy Swales
18 Oct 2017

Get free tickets to see Call Me By Your Name

17 Oct 2017

“In defence of birthdays: why we should celebrate each and every year”

Writer Kate Townshend on why birthday parties shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of adulthood

17 Oct 2017

Life can be ‘torturous’ for a sex addict, according to an expert

“It sounds like fun... that couldn’t be further from the truth”

by Susan Devaney
17 Oct 2017

Why you should wear red if you want to succeed

From ancient history to modern catwalks, why are we all so obsessed with red?

by Alexandra Jones
17 Oct 2017

These are the world’s best and worst major cities to live as a woman

London makes the list – and it’s not all bad news for the capital

by Moya Crockett
17 Oct 2017

Your Starbucks Halloween Frappuccino fix is here and it’s fangtastic

Sink your teeth into this

by Megan Murray
17 Oct 2017

This Princess Bride revelation will make you see the film in a new way

It’s been 30 years since it hit the big screen

by Susan Devaney
17 Oct 2017

Hold up, there's an avocado chocolate bar – AND it’s vegan

Don't fight it

by Megan Murray
17 Oct 2017

What is perspecticide and could it be happening in your relationship?

This form of coercive control is incredibly damaging

by Megan Murray
16 Oct 2017