Public execution is common in Iran; the Islamic judiciary believes this kind of public punishments may avoid others to get involved in criminal or non-Islamic activities. However, many criminologists and social experts are against public punishment and heavy sentences.
Yesterday, it was time for yet another death show prepared in Mashhad in northeast Iran. As people arrived to witness the public execution, the drama took an unexpected turn and ended with mercy and dignity.
Last fall, two Iranian police officers tried to arrest Vahid, a 27 year-old man carrying weapons and drugs. During the struggle Vahid stabbed one officer, Babak, in the chest and attacked the other. Babak died from chest injuries and Vahid was imprisoned, followed by a death sentence.
As Vahid was hanging from the crane, Babak’s father suddenly asked the officials to stop the procedure and pull him down. Vahid was escorted from the scene in a vehicle.
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According to Islamic laws, the close families of a victim can stop the sentence, or in case of “qisas”, the victim can forgive the convict. However in most cases, the offender will face up to his crime and spend some time in jail.
Iran has the highest execution rate in the world after China. According to Amnesty International, in one year it saw a record of 314 official executions, almost one every day.
Not only are many people inside the country against the execution sentence and sometimes try to save the convicts, but the Iranian opposition has also clearly announced they would end the death penalty should they assume power. Even radical leftist parties agree.
About four years ago during the election campaigning, officials executed a teenage girl, Delara Darabi, stirring controversy both inside the country and abroad. Eventually, facts emerged regarding the tragic love story of Delara. It was mentioned in the election campaign that they hanged her in a non-traditional manner.
After her tragic death, protests against executions in Iran spread and brought more attention to the raw scenes played out across the country.
The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of Your Middle East.