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Photos: Mother stops execution as her son's killer was about to be hanged

The dramatic photographs show the public execution in Iran which was stopped at the last minute when the victim’s mother intervened.

A YOUNG IRANIAN man escaped a hangman’s noose with just seconds to spare when his victim’s mother intervened.

In a case that has provoked surprise in Iran and across the world, the killer, known only as Balal, was saved dramatically on Tuesday, as a crowd looked on, awaiting his execution.

arash khamooshi-37 Balal is brought to the gallows Source: Arash Khamooshi/ISNA

He survived despite the mother of the man he murdered in a street fight seven years ago refusing an offer of so-called blood money until the very last moment at the gallows.

As the blindfolded convict awaited his fate, a grieving Samereh Alinejad, who lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago, emotionally asked out loud if those watching the spectacle unfold knew “how difficult it is to live in an empty house?”

Mideast Iran Forgiven Killer Source: AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi

Instead of participating in “qisas” — in which under the sharia law of retribution relatives can push away the chair on which the condemned man stands — Alinejad pardoned the killer, imparting only a slap on his face as punishment.

According to the United Nations, more than 170 people have been executed in Iran since the beginning of 2014.

But under the country’s interpretation of Islamic laws in force since the 1979 revolution, a victim’s family has the right to spare a convict’s life in return for financial payment.

arash khamooshi-39 Source: Arash Khamooshi/ISNA

Iran’s Shargh newspaper said police officers had led Balal, black-hooded, to the execution site in the northern city of Nowshahr.

Widely published photographs captured the drama, with the killer gritting his teeth, seemingly ready for death.

But after slapping him, Alinejad removed the hangman’s rope with the help of her husband, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, a former professional footballer.

APTOPIX Mideast Iran Forgiven Killer Source: (AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi

“I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place,” Alinejad was quoted as saying. “After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer.”

The “slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness”, she added. “Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.”

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Murder and several other crimes are punishable by death in Iran.

Mideast Iran Forgiven Killer The moment when Samereh Alinejad, right, slapped Balal just before his execution, stopping it from going ahead. Source: AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi

A campaign to save Balal was launched last month by Kiaei and celebrities including Adel Ferdosipour, a football commentator and TV show host, and Ali Daei, a former international footballer, asking the family to forgive the killer.

arash khamooshi-43 (1) Source: Arash Khamooshi/ISNA

Kobra, the mother of Balal, hugged Samereh Alinejad as both women cried after the pardon. Balal was brought away by security men.

APTOPIX Mideast Iran Forgiven Killer Kobra, left, the mother of the man who was about to be hanged, embraces Samereh Alinejad, the mother of the victim, after she pardoned him. Source: AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi

Balal will serve a prison sentence instead of being executed, according to an Iranian newspaper.

Mideast Iran Forgiven Killer Balal is escorted away from the scene of the execution by Iranian officials and security. Source: AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi

Read: Killing sprees: Number of people executed worldwide spiked in 2013 >

Read: ‘Iranians look upon the closure of the Irish embassy as a slight’ > 

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