There are the laws of the nation, then there's what grandma says. Those two codes collided in a recent case in Iran, where a grandmother who was robbed by her own grandson was ready to see him pay for the crime — until she found out the punishment was chopping off the young man's hand.

A jury had found the grandson, Farhad, and his friend Pourya guilty of entering the woman's home in Tehran four years ago, threatening to kill her and stealing gold and dollar bills, the newspaper Shargh reported this week.

Farhad's grandmother initially asked the court to show no mercy. "I won't forgive either of them," she told the judge, adding, "I am Farhad's grandmother and he is my grandson. How could he [...] have attacked my house and frightened me like that? I still can't sleep at night."

The two men blamed each other for instigating the theft, with Pourya telling the court: "Farhad thought that even if his grandmother finds out, she would forgive him."

She would, eventually. The Supreme Court confirmed the amputation sentence for forced burglary — one of Iran's many brutal punishments for crimes. It is not unusual for plaintiffs to forego reprisals and pardon criminals. With death sentences, in particular, the judiciary may even encourage victims' relatives to pardon the killer.

In this case, the grandmother asked the courts to cancel her previous desire for justice: "I don't want Farhad to lose his hand." The court will now be considering a reduced sentence, without amputation for either the grandson or his accomplice. For this grandmother (but certainly not all), a little jail time will serve her precious grandson just about right.

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