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Photos show victim's mother forgive killer, halt hanging in Iran

By Josh Levs and Azadeh Ansari, CNN
updated 5:42 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Iranian authorities prepare a man identified only as Balal to be hanged in the northern city of Noor this week. Balal was convicted in the stabbing death of 17-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh seven years ago during a street fight. Iranian authorities prepare a man identified only as Balal to be hanged in the northern city of Noor this week. Balal was convicted in the stabbing death of 17-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh seven years ago during a street fight.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Photos capture a near-hanging in Iran
  • A victim's parents forgive his convicted killer
  • The parents removed the noose
  • The convicted killer's parents rushed to thank them

(CNN) -- The images tell a story of anguish and forgiveness.

The parents of a young man killed in a street fight halt the execution of the convicted killer this week -- seconds before he was to be hanged in front of a large crowd.

It took place in Iran, where hangings are still accepted as a form of public execution.

The semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA identifies the man who was to be hanged as Balal. In 2007, at the age of 19, he killed 17-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, ISNA reported.

Mother slaps, then forgives son's murderer

The two got into a street fight, and Balal took out a kitchen knife, stabbing Abdollah. The victim's family believes that Balal did not intend to kill their son, the report said.

ISNA photographer Arash Khamooshi was there when people gathered in the northern city of Noor, near the Caspian Sea in the province of Maznadaran, before dawn.

One of Khamooshi's photos shows Balal's mother, Koukab, sitting on the ground before her son is brought out. "She had no energy left in her," Khamooshi said. She was "resigned to the fact that she was going to lose her son. It was very moving."

Balal emerged. His head was covered, and the noose was placed around his neck. The man was "screaming and praying loudly before he just went silent," Khamooshi told CNN's "Connect the World."

The victim's family came out, and his mother, Maryam Hosseinzadeh, addressed the crowd. She said she's been living a nightmare since she lost her son and couldn't bring herself to forgive the killer, Khamooshi adds.

Then she walked toward Balal and asked for a chair to stand on. She stepped up, slapped Balal and said, "forgiven." She and Abdollah's father took the noose off.

Balal's family rushed over, hugged them and thanked them for what they had done.

"I don't know how I took these pictures," Khamooshi said. "I guess it's the power of the camera that allows you to focus. That's the only reason I didn't break down and cry."

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