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Iranian Justice system delivers new affront in the Zahra Kazemi case

Reporters Without Borders said it was "astounded" at the 28 July 2004 statement by Iran's justice system that the death of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi could have been "accidental".

The international press freedom organisation joined the family's lawyers in calling on the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi, to name a judge independent of the Tehran prosecutor's office to review the entire file and reconstruct the facts in the case.

"Reporters Without Borders cannot find words strong enough to describe the latest statements from the Iranian justice system. They dare to say that, since the man responsible for Kazemi's murder was acquitted - at a rigged trial - it proves that Zahra Kazemi died accidentally !

"This reasoning goes beyond the ridiculous and amounts to an affront. We join the lawyers in calling for a judge independent of the prosecutor's office, which is implicated in this case, for a full investigation of this murder that the legal authorities are trying to dress up as an accident, " said the organisation.

Kazemi was arrested on 23 June 2003 while taking photographs of families of inmates in front of Evin Prison in the north of Tehran. She was beaten in detention and died from her injuries on 10 July. After first trying to hide the cause of death, the Iranian authorities admitted on 16 July that she had been "beaten".

Intelligence official Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, one of those who interrogated Kazemi in custody, was charged and then acquitted on 24 July 2004.

During the trial, the family's lawyers called for evidence to be given in court by Mohammad Bakshi, an agent at Evin Prison under the control of the Tehran prosecutor ; Said Mortazavi, Tehran prosecutor ; and five top legal officials who were present at the interrogation.

The Tehran court rejected the request and dispatched the trial in two days. However various Iranian investigative commissions have implicated these legal officials.

In a statement released on 28 July, the family's lawyers' collective, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, urged the head of the judiciary Ayatollah Shahrudi, to name a judge independent of the prosecutor's office to review the entire file and allow an genuine reconstruction of the murder.

The statement also put a series of questions : "It has been proved, including in statements from several witnesses present at the scene, that a senior official at Evin Prison struck Zahra Kazemi a very heavy blow on the left side of her head that broke her skull. We want to know why certain people want to cover up this case. Why was the identity not revealed of an interrogator of Zahra Kazemi, from 23 June at 10.30pm to 24 June at 2.30am, although the interrogation took place in the presence of the prosecutor and one of his assistants ? Why were the records of the interrogation falsified ? Why was the intelligence services proposal to take part in reconstruction of the murder scene not taken into account ?"

Reporters Without Borders is also maintaining its demand for Kazemi's body to be repatriated to Canada, in accordance with the wishes of her son and for an autopsy to be carried out there.

... Payvand News - 7/30/04 ... --

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