In this photo taken in Tehran on Sunday, a 23-year-old man about to be hanged seeks comfort from an unlikely source — his executioner.

A picture is worth 1,000 words: Iranian justice

Photo by Amir Pourmand (ISNA/AP)

Masked in black, the hangman embraced the condemned before carrying out his execution. As Walter Russell Meade notes, the image isn’t from inside a prison, but from a public execution.

The two young men hanged in Tehran’s Park-e Honarmandan (Artists Park) on Sunday were convicted of stabbing a man, stealing his bag, and taking $20. During the trial, one of the men claimed that poverty drove them to crime. A judge convicted them of “waging war against God,” and sentenced them to death.