Iranian killer's execution stopped by victim's parents

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Iranian Killer Spared Execution When Victim's Mother Forgives




The execution of an Iranian convicted of murder was halted at the very last minute in a dramatic scene this week when the mother of his victim forgave him as he stood on the gallows with the noose around his neck, according to Iranian media.

The convict, identified by his first name Bilal, had been sentenced to death for killing a teenager, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, during a street fight in the market of the northern Iranian town of Nour seven years ago, the ISNA news agency reported. At the time, both Bilal and Hosseinzadeh were around 17 years old, ISNA said.

Bilal was brought blindfolded to the site of his planned execution Tuesday in a town square. He was stood on a chair on the gallows and the noose was put on his neck, according to pictures of the scene published by ISNA.

But at the last minute, Hosseinzadeh's mother, Samereh Alinejad, forgave him, after giving a speech to the crowd and then slapping Bilal in the face. Hosseinzadeh's father helped take the noose off of Bilal, whose weeping mother hugged Alinejad in thanks, as seen in the photos.

Hosseinzadeh's family had come under calls by famous artists, soccer coaches and town residents to pardon Bilal and accept blood money instead of execution, a provision allowed to victim's families under Iranian law. Bilal was a student of Hosseinzadeh's father, a well-known former local soccer player who now coaches the sport. Even an episode of a popular sports program on Iranian state television had urged the family to forgive Bilal the day before his planned execution.

Alinejad told the Shargh newspaper in an interview published Thursday that she resisted the pressure, including from her own family. She and her husband, who also have a daughter, lost another son who was killed in a car crash years earlier.

She told Shargh that her son Abdollah appeared to her in a dream and asked her to forgive his killer, and still she was reluctant. She said that in her speech at the gallows, she scolded the crowd for pressuring her to forgive, saying: "Do you know what I have gone through all these years and how my life became like poison?"

But after Bilal pleaded to her - and she slapped him - "I felt at ease" and forgave him, she said.

Bilal will serve a prison sentence instead of being executed, according to the newspaper.

Iran has the second highest number of executions in the world - 369 in 2013 - after China, according to Amnesty International.

Iranian killer's execution stopped by victim's parents
This picture provided by ISNA, a semi-official news agency, taken on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 shows Iranian officials and security escorting away the blindfolded man Bilal from the scene of his execution in public in the northern city of Nour, Iran. Bilal, who was convicted of killing Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, was pardoned by the victim's family moments before being executed. (AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)
In this picture taken on Monday, April 28, 2014, Iranian woman Samereh Alinejad wipes away tears at her home while talking about her son who was killed in a street brawl in the city of Royan about 146 miles (235 kilometers) north of the capital Tehran, Iran. Alinejad tells The Associated Press that she had felt she could never live with herself if the man who killed her son were spared from execution. But in the last moment, she pardoned him in an act that has made her a hero in her hometown, where banners in the streets praise her family’s mercy. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
This picture provided by ISNA, an semi-official news agency, taken on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 shows a blindfolded Iranian man Bilal being prepared to be hanged in public in the northern city of Nour, Iran. Bilal, who was convicted of killing Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, was pardoned by the victim's family moments before being executed. (AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)
This picture provided by ISNA, a semi-official news agency, taken on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 shows Samereh Alinejad, right, and her husband Abdolghani, left, removing the noose from the neck of blindfolded Bilal who was convicted of murdering their son Abdollah in the northern city of Nour, Iran. Bilal who was convicted of killing Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, was pardoned by the victim's family moments before being executed. (AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)
This picture provided by ISNA, an semi-official news agency, taken on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 shows Samereh Alinejad, right, slapping blindfolded Bilal, who was convicted of murdering her son Abdollah prior to his execution in public in the northern city of Nour, Iran. Bilal who was convicted of killing Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, was pardoned by the victim's family moments before being executed. (AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)
This picture provided by ISNA, a semi-official news agency, taken on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 shows Kobra, left, whose son Bilal was convicted of murdering a man, embracing Samereh Alinejad, mother of the victim, after she pardoned the murderer before his execution in public in the northern city of Nour, Iran. Bilal who was convicted of killing Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, was pardoned by the victim's family moments before being executed. (AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)
This picture provided by ISNA, an semi-official news agency, taken on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 shows Iranian woman Kobra, bottom, whose son Bilal was convicted of murdering a man, waiting among people before his execution in public in the northern city of Nour, Iran. Bilal, who was convicted of killing Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, was pardoned by the victim's family moments before being executed. (AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)
In this picture taken on Monday, April 28, 2014, Iranian woman Samereh Alinejad leaves a cemetery after praying at the grave of her sons Amir Hossein and Abdollah in the city of Royan about 146 miles (235 kilometers) north of the capital Tehran, Iran. Amir Hossein was killed in a motorcycle crash and Abdollah was killed in a street brawl. Alinejad tells The Associated Press that she had felt she could never live with herself if the man who killed her son Abdollah were spared from execution. But in the last moment, she pardoned him in an act that has made her a hero in her hometown, where banners in the streets praise her family’s mercy. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
In this picture taken on Monday, April 28, 2014, Iranian woman Samereh Alinejad prays at the grave of her sons Amir Hossein and Abdollah in a cemetery in the city of Royan about 146 miles (235 kilometers) north of the capital Tehran, Iran. Amir Hossein was killed in a motorcycle crash and Abdollah was killed in a street brawl. Alinejad tells The Associated Press that she had felt she could never live with herself if the man who killed her son Abdollah were spared from execution. But in the last moment, she pardoned him in an act that has made her a hero in her hometown, where banners in the streets praise her family’s mercy. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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