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Dead Iranian-Canadian journalist's file sent to criminal court, judiciary pledges careful probe

The case of Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi, who died last week while in custody, has been referred to a criminal court here for investigation, the court's head said Monday, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Meanwhile, Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi said that the file was carefully being investigated in the face of the enemies' manipulation of the death case.

"What is important is the fact that officials have been acting prudently against enemies' plots in the years after the (1979) Islamic Revolution," he said.

Tehran deputy prosecutor and head of criminal court, Ja'far Reshadati however urged 'journalists to refrain from making the case controversial so that its legal procedures go ahead normally'.

Tehran public and revolutionary courts as well as military court have refused to handle the case on the ground that it was outside their jurisdiction.

The 54-year-old journalist died here because of fractured skull.

An ad hoc committee, formed on President Mohammad Khatami's order, has said that Kazemi died after her skull was fractured either 'because a hard object hit her head or her head hit a hard object'.

The journalist, working for Canadian Camera Press journal, was arrested last month while illegally taking pictures from Evin prison in Tehran and whisked away to Information Ministry, where she felt unwell and was taken to hospital.

Several days later, she was pronounced dead from brain hemorrhage.

Press has cited Tehran public prosecutor's office as saying that five people had been arrested in connection with the case.

The journalist's death triggered a spat between Iranian and Canadian governments after Tehran rejected Ottawa's demand that her body be transferred to Canada.

Ottawa recalled its ambassador Philip MacKinnon, followed by Iran summoning Canadian charge d'affaires here, Gilles Poirier, in connection with the death of an Iranian national which was blamed on Canadian police in Vancouver.

Canadian police recently attacked three Iranian nationals in Vancouver, killing Keyvan Tabesh and injuring Amir Aqaie. The attack was met by a news blackout in Canada.

... Payvand News - 7/28/03 ... --

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