A man’s life was spared at the last second in Iran after the mother of a man he murdered halted his public execution.
Balal, with a noose tight around his neck, was awaiting death by hanging for the 2007 murder of 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh when the victim’s mother had a change of heart, according to The Guardian.
The woman reportedly slapped the blind-folded Balal in the face before her husband helped her remove the noose, in front of a shocked crowd in Nowshahr, Iran on Tuesday.
"I am a believer,” said the victim’s mother, Samereh Alinejad, according to Agence France-Presse. “I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place … After that, all my relatives, even my mother, put pressure on me to pardon the killer."
Balal is accused of stabbing her son to death in a street fight.
Dramatic photos taken by Arash Khamooshi of the Isna news agency show the woman approaching Balal and later crying with his mother.
Alinejad and her husband were originally supposed to kick the chair on which Balal stood, The Guardian reported.
There were at least 369 executions in Iran last year and possibly hundreds more that weren’t reported, according to Amnesty International’s 2013 report on death sentences and executions.
That’s an 18 percent increase from 2012, according to the group.
Iran has the highest number of executions of any country in the world, excluding China, which won’t release that data, according to Amnesty International.