Iran carries out more executions than nearly any other country in the world. China, which treats its capital punishment data as a state secret, is believed to be the only country that uses the death penalty more often than the Islamic Republic, which counted 255 executions in 2020 for everything from non-violent drug offenses to political sedition to murder and rape.

Iranian law, however, also allows for someone sentenced to death to be pardoned by their accuser or family of the victim, though such instances are rare. In one highly publicized case in 2014 a convicted murderer already had the noose around his neck when the victim's mother slapped her son's killer and then she forgave him, sparing his life at the last moment.

A case late last month was also notable for its timing, Sharq newspaper reports, when the victim's family forgave his killer a full 42 years after the murder.

The killer, who confessed to killing the man in his garden during a 1979 argument, spent 33 years as a fugitive before being captured in 2012. The subsequent death sentence would have been carried out, but a court in Sanandaj, the capital of the province of Kurdistan, ordered his release, after the victim's family spent "many sessions" with an arbitration committee that identifies certain killings that might warrant a pardon.

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