A 24-year-old man named Balal felt the noose around his neck Tuesday when the mother of the 18-year-old boy he killed 7 years prior, Samereh Alinejad, came up to the gallows and instead of kicking the chair, slapped him across the face.
She then halted the execution and said she forgave him. The family of the victim is the only one who has the right to halt the execution of a murderer in Iran.
"Now that I have forgiven him, I feel relieved," said Alinejad.
Balal will now have to wait for Iranian authorities to waive his sentence. He described the slap as, "the space between revenge and forgiveness."
Iran averages about two executions a day according to its official reports, not including the ones performed secretly, estimated to number in the hundreds.