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Middle East

Iranian mother 'at peace' after stopping execution of son's killer

Samereh Alinejad stopped Balal Abdullah's hanging at the last moment

An Iranian woman who dramatically stopped her son’s killer being executed at the last moment has said the act of mercy has put her “at peace”.

Balal Abdullah was due to hang earlier this month for murdering 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a fight in the street seven years ago.

As he screamed for forgiveness, Balal’s head was placed in a noose but his victim’s family exercised their powers under Sharia law to reverse the death sentence and instead of pulling the chair from under him, they took the rope off his neck.

Abdollah’s mother, Samereh Alinejad, said through the years following her son's death she wanted his murderer to be hanged, but days before the execution date Abdollah started appearing to her in vivid dreams.

He was the second son she and husband Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh had lost after their 11-year-old boy was killed in a motorbike accident.

After a night of turmoil, she was determined for the execution to go ahead as planned but as Balal stood with the noose around his neck, she suddenly walked up to him and slapped his face.

“After that, I felt as if rage vanished within my heart. I felt as if the blood in my veins began to flow again,” she told the Guardian.

“I burst into tears and I called my husband and asked him to come up and remove the noose.”

The crowds of people gathered were elated by the shock pardon and Balal’s mother Kobra prostrated herself at Alinejad’s feet in thanks before they embraced for the first time.

The extraordinary scenes were captured in a series of photos released by a  news agency funded by the Iranian government.

Abdollah's father, Hosseinzadeh said he and his wife decided Balal did not mean to kill their son when he stabbed him in a brawl in a bazaar.

“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.”

The incident has highlighted the controversial death penalty system in Iran, which sees it execute more of its own people than any other country apart from China.

Alinejad has become an icon for people opposed to capital punishment in the country and is now called “mother” by people in the streets.

“Losing a child is like losing a part of your body. All these years, I felt like a moving dead body,“ she told the Guardian. ”But now, I feel very calm, I feel I'm at peace. I feel that vengeance has left my heart.“