The Iranian woman who spared her son’s murderer’s life said her gallows pardon came as a last-minute change of heart, and that she is now at peace with herself, The Guardian reported Friday

Speaking in a telephone interview for the first time since last week’s story broke, Alinejad Hosseinzadeh told the paper that as the execution date approached, she dreamed of her dead son Abdollah, who was stabbed to death by Balal seven years earlier.

Balal Abdullah was sentenced to death after he stabbed Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, who was 17 at the time, to death during a street fight in the town of Royan seven years ago. Abdullah, 24, was scheduled to be hanged last Tuesday in the city of Nowshah.

“Ten days before the execution was due, I saw my son in a dream asking me not to take revenge, but I couldn’t convince myself to forgive,” she told the Guardian. “Two nights before that day, I saw him in the dream once again, but this time he refused to speak to me.”

Despite the visions, Alinejad remained determined to exact her revenge on Balal and have him hanged.

“Until the last minute, I didn’t want to forgive,” she said. “I had told my husband just two days before that I can’t forgive this man, but maybe there would be a possibility, but I couldn’t persuade myself to forgive.”

As the noose was tightened around Abdullah’s neck, Hosseinzadeh’s mother approached the convicted killer and announced that she had chosen to forgive him. Instead of kicking the chair out from beneath his feet, she slapped him on the face.

“After that, I felt as if rage vanished within my heart. I felt as if the blood in my veins began to flow again,” she said. “I burst into tears and I called my husband and asked him to come up and remove the noose.”

“Losing a child is like losing a part of your body. All these years, I felt like a moving dead body,” she said. “But now, I feel very calm, I feel I’m at peace. I feel that vengeance has left my heart.”

Balal’s own mother ran up to Alinejad and hugged her. The two proceeded to weep in each other’s arms. 

“She was extremely happy, it was as if someone had given her wings to fly,” Alinejad told The Guardian.

Balal Abdullah (L) and Abdollah Hosseinzadeh's mother, who decided to pardon her son's killer (photo credit: AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)

Balal Abdullah (left) and Abdollah Hosseinzadeh’s mother, who decided to pardon her son’s killer. (photo credit: AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)

Despite his pardon, Abdullah will remain in prison.

According to a literal interpretation of Sharia law, the parents of a murder victim may take part in the hanging of the killer by kicking the chair out from under his feet. On the other hand, the parents may choose to spare the convict’s life.

Moments before the reprieve (photo credit: AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)

Moments before the reprieve (photo credit: AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)

After China, Iran has the highest number of executions of any country in the world, according to Amnesty International. Forty executions have been carried out in Iran since the beginning of 2014, with at least 33 carried out in the month of January alone.