Last minute slap – reprieve for a killer

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.

The dramatic climax followed a rare public campaign to save the life of Balal, who at 19 killed another young man in a street fight with a knife.

Under Islamic laws in force in Iran since a 1979 revolution, murder and several other crimes are punishable by death. But the victim’s family has the right to spare a convict’s life in return for blood money.

Blindfolded and with the noose tight around his neck, Balal, the killer, was due to have the scaffold chair kicked away from under him by the dead man’s parents.

As he prepared to take his last breath, the victim’s mother instead walked up to him, slapped him around the face and forgave him in an extraordinary act of clemency.

The inset picture shows the incredible moment the murderer was spared the gallows just seconds before he was due to be hanged.

Incidentally, the mother of the victim had lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago. “The murderer was crying, asking for forgiveness. I slapped him in the face. That slap helped to calm me down,” the mother 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,” he said later in a television interview.

A high-profile campaign was launched by public figures appealing to  the victim’s family to forgive the killer.

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