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Iran: Journalist Zahra Kazemi's death caused by physical attack, inquiry says

Five cabinet ministers in charge of an inquiry into death of Iranian photojournalist Mrs Zahra Kazemi said on Sunday that she died from physical attack, IRNA reported from Tehran.

President Mohammad Khatami assigned four cabinet members to inquire into her death last week.

In a directive to Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ahmad Masjed Jamei, Minister of Information Ali Yunessi, Minister of the Interior Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari and Minister of Justice Ismail Shushtari, the president sought to clarify every aspect the victim's sudden death. Minister of Heath and Medical Education Masoud Pezeshkian joined the team in the process of autopsy.

"You should determine the reasons for her sudden death and who is responsible for it," President Khatami said in his directive in reaction to a statement from her family that she may have died of physical attack.

Mrs Kazemi was arrested while taking photo from Evin prison compound where families of those under arrest were staging demonstration on June 23.

President Khatami urged the four cabinet ministers to see whether there is a matter of culpability in the case.

The report issued by the investigating committee said that Mrs Zahra Kazemi died of brain hemorrhage caused by a break in her skull.

Investigation on Kazemi's death sign of transparency: Asefi

Formation of an investigation committee on the recent death of Zahra Kazemi, the Iranian national photojournalist residing in Canada, indicates Iran's seriousness and transparency, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi.

Asefi, talking to foreign and domestic reporters here Monday, briefed them on Kazemi's death who died from a brain hemorrhage.

"If we were not serious and transparent, The president (Mohammad Khatami) would never issue such an order (formation of an investigation committee)," Asefi said.

"The measures adopted by Iran to this effect were not in favor of this or that country. They were due to the country's responsibility," he added.

"The government did its best to reveal the cause of Zahra Kazemi's regrettable death," the spokesman said. "The foreign ministers of Iran and Canada held talks in this regard and the Canadian ambassador to Iran have also held several meetings with officials of Iran's Foreign Ministry."

"Iran has proved it is following Kazemi's case seriously not because the Canadian government seeks to make the issue clear but for the reason that the reporter is an Iranian national," Asefi noted.

He added the committee's report is the main source for judgment and said, "We should wait until the investigation and other procedures based on the committee's recommendations and proposals are completed."

The court should determine the issue of transferring her body to Canada, Asefi further said.

Kazemi was arrested while illegally taking photo from Evin prison compound on June 23. She was taken to hospital after complaining of poor health during interrogation.

The 54-year-old photojournalist, who was working for Canada's Camera Press journal, was pronounced dead from brain hemorrhage in a Tehran hospital on July 11.

... Payvand News - 7/21/03 ... --

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