TEHRAN: An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck, a newspaper reported Thursday.
The dramatic climax followed a rare public campaign to save the life of Balal, who at 19 killed another young man, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, in a street fight with a knife back in 2007.
COMPASSION REDEFINED: The mother of Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, who was murdered in 2007,
slaps Balal who killed her son in a street fight, before she spared Balal’s life during the execution ceremony in Nowshahr, Iran. (AFP)
Shargh newspaper said police officers led Balal to a public execution site in the northern city of Nowshahr as a large crowd gathering on Tuesday morning.
Samereh Alinejad, mother of the victim who lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago, asked the crowd whether they know “how difficult it is to live in an empty house.”
Balal, black-hooded and standing on a chair before a makeshift gallows, had the noose around his neck when Alinejad approached.
She slapped him in the face and removed the rope from his neck assisted by her husband, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, a former professional footballer.
“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,” Alinejad told Shargh.
“The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down,” she said. “Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.”
Balal said the “slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness.”
“I’ve asked my friends not to carry knives… I wish someone had slapped me in the face when I wanted to carry one,” Balal said in a television interview.
A high-profile campaign was launched by public figures including Adel Ferdosipour, a popular football commentator and TV show host, and former international footballer Ali Daei, appealed for the victim’s family to forgive the killer.