The unusual execution in Iran

Apart from China, Iran is on the front line when it comes to capital punishment. The country has garnered Western media attention and criticism for carrying out executions even of minors. Hangings are frequently held in public. 16-year-old Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh was hanged from a crane in Neka, Iran, on August 15, 2004, on charges of adultery and “crimes against chastity”. The judge in her case personally applied the noose around her neck.

In 2014, a young man identified only as Balal was due to be hanged for stabbing a friend during a street brawl.


Balal’s mother collapses behind the spectators’ barrier, as police look on.

The family of the victim refused an offer of so-called blood-money — ‘diya’ in Islamic law, is when victim’s family want to compromise with the guilty party.

Sometimes, a murder victim’s family may participate in the punishment by pushing the chair from under a condemned prisoner.


Officials ask the onlookers to remain calm.

At the last minute, instead of pushing the chair, the mother of the victim decided to slap Balal’s face in an act of symbolic forgiveness. Such an act puts a stop to the execution, though the victim’s family does not have a say in any subsequent jail sentence.


The victim’s mother walks away, as the crowd and a police officer look on.


Balal is escorted away from the scene of the execution by Iranian officials and security.


The chair that was not pushed that day.