Iranian murderer given dramatic last-minute pardon from death penalty by mother and father of stabbing victim

Instead of pushing away chair from under Balal Abdullah they removed the noose from his neck

A convicted killer in Iran has been saved from public execution at the last possible moment, after the family of the victim decided to spare his life.

Balal Abdullah, now in his 20s, was found guilty of murdering Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a fight in the street seven years ago when they were both 17.

Abdollah’s mother and father, who have also lost an 11-year-old son to a motorbike accident, had repeatedly asked for Balal’s execution to be delayed until a final date was set for Tuesday this week.

According to the “eye for an eye” ruling of qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim’s family were to take an active role in the punishment of their son’s killer – it was expected that they would push away the chair on which he stood.

Screaming for his life, Balal was dragged out to the gallows by officials and had his head placed in the noose.

Yet instead of sealing his fate, Abdollah’s mother slapped Balal’s face and then signalled her forgiveness. The victim’s father then removed the noose.

The extraordinary scenes were captured in a series of photos released by the government-funded news agency Isna. The victim's father, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, told the agency that his wife had had a dream three days earlier in which their son told her not to retaliate for his death.

According to reports in the Guardian, he said they reconsidered Balal’s fate, and decided he did not deliberately try to kill their son.

“Abdollah was taking a stroll in the bazaar with his friends when Balal shoved him,” he said. “Abdollah was offended and kicked him but at this time the murderer took an ordinary kitchen knife out of his socks.” He added that Balal was “inexperienced and didn't know how to handle a knife… he was naïve”.

Balal has now been returned to jail – the system of qisas gives victims’ families control over the administering of death penalties, not prison sentences.

The incident has highlighted the controversial practice which sees Iran execute more of its own people than any country other than China.

There is currently a high-profile campaign underway to seek the pardon of a 26-year-old woman, Reyhaneh Jabbari, who has been convicted of killing a male member of the Iranian intelligence services.

She has argued that the man was trying to rape her and that she acted in self-defence, and an online petition calling for UN intervention in the matter has been signed by more than 140,000 people.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor