Iranian man's dramatic escape from execution falsely linked to killing of Filipino in Kuwait

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

Facebook posts viewed hundreds of thousands of times falsely claim to show images of an execution of the suspect in the killing of a Filipino worker in Kuwait in January 2023. But the posts actually feature images of an Iranian man's dramatic escape from the hangman's noose in April 2014 after his victim's mother intervened to spare his life. The teenager suspected of killing the Filipino worker was in custody as of February 15, 2023.

"The killer of the Filipino woman overseas worker in Kuwait has been hanged," reads part of the Tagalog-language caption of a video clip shared on Facebook on January 29, 2023.

The clip shows 15 images of a woman approaching a blindfolded man about to be hanged while a crowd looks on. It racked up more than 890,000 views before it was removed.

The false post circulated online following the death of overseas Filipino worker Jullebee Ranara, whose remains were found in Kuwait on January 21, 2023, Philippine Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople told local media.

Ople said the suspect in the case was the 17-year-old son of the family Ranara worked for. Her office did not respond to AFP's multiple requests for updates regarding the case.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait said in a statement on January 29 the suspect "has been arrested and is currently in detention".

Ranara's death has fuelled online misinformation debunked by AFP here, here, here and here.

Screenshot of the false post taken on February 15, 2023

Similar clips shared in false Facebook posts here and here appeared to mislead social media users.

"Good job, Kuwait government," one commented.

"He deserves it," another wrote.

The images in the clip, however, predate Ranara's killing by more than eight years.

AFP published nine of the 15 photos on its website here.

They show an Iranian mother sparing the life of her son's killer -- known only as Balal -- moments before his execution in the northern Iranian city of Nowshahr on April 15, 2014.

As the blindfolded convict awaited his fate, a grieving Samereh Alinejad emotionally asked out loud if those watching the spectacle unfold knew "how difficult it is to live in an empty house", AFP reported at the time.

Instead of participating in "qisas" -- in which under the sharia law of retribution relatives can push away the chair on which the condemned man stands -- Alinejad pardoned the killer, imparting only a slap on his face as punishment.

After slapping him, Alinejad removed the hangman's rope with the help of her husband.

The photos were credited to photographer Arash Khamooshi of the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA). Keyword searches found ISNA published all 15 photos in the clip on its website here.

Below are screenshots showing the photos circled in red on the AFP and ISNA websites:

A screenshot of the photos on AFP's website.
A screenshot of the photos on ISNA's website.

Some of the photos have also been published by international news organisations including the BBC, CNN and The Guardian in their reports about the same incident.