Convict pardoned moments before beheading

A Saudi man sentenced to death for murder was escorted to a big square where hundreds of people gathered to watch him beheaded. Just as the executioner was about to bring his sword down on the neck of the blindfolded man, the beheading was abruptly halted amidst religious chanting by the crowd.

The event was not part of a film. It took place at the execution square in the southern Saudi town of Abha on Tuesday morning.

The swordsman, standing above the kneeling tied defendant, just froze upon hearing a man from the crowd shouting the pardon. He was the victim’s father.

“The halting of the execution caused a big stir among the crowd, who began chanting ‘God is Great’,” Sabq Arabic language daily said.

The pardon by the victim’s father, Sheikh Saad bin Ayed Al Kadam, came as a big surprise to both the crowd and the officials enforcing the court sentence.

“For nearly six years, Sheikh Kadam has rejected all mediation efforts exerted by relatives, dignitaries and many Saudi princes to pardon the killer…he had insisted on the death of his son’s killer….just after the court sentence and Koran verses were read inside the execution square and the swordsman was ready to behead the killer, Sheikh Kadam shouted the pardon.”

“Sheikh Kadam did not only pardon the killer, but asked court to release him from jail immediately…he later said that he decided to pardon the killer in response to King Abdullah’s wish which was conveyed to him by Prince Faisal bin Khaled of (the southern province of) Asir.”

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