In a dramatic, 11th-hour about-face, an Iranian woman pardoned the man who viciously blinded her in an acid attack, stopping a literal "eye-for-an-eye" punishment.
In 2004, female Ameneh Bahrami turned down a marriage proposal from Majid Movahedi, who responded by throwing acid in her face, blinding and disfiguring her forever.
He was convicted in 2008 and, under Islamic law, Bahrami could have demanded eye for an eye retribution. That is what she chose, in fact, although a court ruled Movahedi could only be blinded in one eye.
After some legal back and forth, sentencing day was set for Sunday.
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With Movahedi on his knees and a doctor standing over him, waiting to drop acid into his eye, the doctor asked Bahrami, "What do you want to do now?"
"I forgave him, I forgave him," the 34-year-old Bahrami responded in a dramatic scene that was broadcast on Iran's state television.
"It is best to pardon when you are in a position of power," Bahrami said.
Movahedi said Bahrami was "very generous," adding "I couldn't imagine being blinded by acid." Then he curled up against a wall and cried.
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Iran's ISNA news agency reports that prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said Movahedi would remain in jail until a court decides on an alternative punishment. He said Movahedi will have to pay financial compensation to Bahrami. She has asked for up to $200,000.
Amnesty International was happy the blinding was stopped, but called on Iran to change its laws.
"The Iranian authorities should review the penal code as a matter of urgency to ensure those who cause intentional serious physical harm, like acid attacks, receive an appropriate punishment — but that must never be a penalty which in itself constitutes torture," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.