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Mother who saved son's killer from noose: Rage vanished within my heart

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The Iranian mother who saved her teenage son’s killer from being hanged for murder, said she felt rage vanish from her heart the moment she pardoned him.

Samereh Alinejad’s son Abdollah Hosseinzadeh was stabbed and killed in a street brawl in 2007 when he was 18 by his killer Balal who he had played football with in his teens.

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.

"Ten days before the execution was due, I saw my son in a dream asking me not to take revenge, but I couldn't convince myself to forgive," she told the Guardian. "Two nights before that day, I saw him in the dream once again, but this time he refused to speak to me."

Moments before he was to be hanged, Balal reportedly begged for mercy. "Please forgive," he shouted, "if only for my mum and dad," Samereh recalled. "I was angry, I shouted back how can I forgive, did you show mercy to my son's mum and dad?"

Photo: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

However, Samereh shocked herself and the world when she stepped up to the execution site and rather than kicking out his chair, slapped Balal in the face after which the noose was removed and he was pardoned.

"After that, I felt as if rage vanished within my heart. I felt as if the blood in my veins began to flow again," she said. "I burst into tears and I called my husband and asked him to come up and remove the noose."

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.

Photo: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

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

Words: Michelle Fowler, Photos: Arash Khamooshi, Iran's Isna news agency

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