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A man set for execution by hanging in Iran was given a stunning reprieve by the victim's parents, who decided instead to forgive him at the very last minute.
Balal was already in the noose at the gallows, when the victim's mother stepped forward and slapped him across the face after giving a speech to the gathered crowd, reports The Guardian. The victim's father followed up by removing the man's blindfold.
Due to sharia law of retribution, qisas, the victim's family is allowed to be involved in the punishment, which in this case meant pushing the chair Balal was standing on.
Balal was up for execution, in a country that is second only to China in putting people to death, after he stabbed Abdollah Hosseinzadeh seven years ago while in a street brawl.
According to The Associated Press, the victim's family had been urged by many Iranian celebrities and many involved in soccer to forgive Balal for his actions and instead take blood money.
Hosseinzadeh's mother, Samereh Alinejad, previously spoke with the Shargh newspaper and said she would not bow to the pressure, even after saying her son appeared to her in a dream seeking for her to spare his killer's life.
When she stepped up to the gallows, she admonished the crowd saying, "Do you know what I have gone through all these years and how my life became like poison?"
But what ultimately swayed Alinejad appears to be final pleas by Balal to spare his life. She said after slapping him and letting him live, "I felt at ease."
Since Balal was allowed to live, he will now instead serve a prison sentence.