Iranian killer spared by victim's family moments before execution

Apr 17, 2014

Execution stopped at the last minute by murder victim's mother, who slaps killer then forgives him

AN Iranian man convicted of murder has been spared by his victim's family moments before he was due to be executed.

A series of dramatic pictures taken by photographer Arash Khamooshi, from the "semi-official" Isna news agency, show the convicted man being taken to the gallows to be hanged. The victim's mother can be seen slapping the man in the face, before the noose is removed from his neck and he is led away.

Seven years ago the convicted murderer, referred to in news reports by his first name Balal, was convicted of stabbing 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a fight in the small town of Royan.

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

In the end Hosseinzadeh's family concluded that the killing had been an accident: "Balal was inexperienced and didn't know how to handle a knife. He was naive," he said.

According to the qisas – the Sharia laws of retribution – the family of a victim is allowed to participate in the punishment of an offender.

Iran has come under fire for its high rate of executions. Already this year 199 executions have been carried out, The Guardian reports.

Amnesty International described the situation as "shameful" noting that in Iran, executions rose by 18 per cent to 369 last year.

Many of the Iranians put to death in 2013 were convicted of "vaguely defined terrorism-related offences", Amnesty said.

Amnesty's Bahareh Davis said she welcomed the news that Balal's life had been saved. "It is of course welcome news that the family of the victim have spared this young man's life," she said. "However, qisas regulations in Iran mean that people who are sentenced to death under this system of punishment are effectively prevented from seeking a pardon or commutation of their sentences from the authorities – contrary to Iran's international obligations."

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Whilst it is right the family should be allowed to have a hand in the punishment it is wrong they can stop it. The murderer was carrying a lethal weapon without good reason. He used it to kill. He deserved to die.