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Tehran court to try case of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist on July 17

Tehran, May 19, IRNA -- The head of the Tehran Justice Department, Abassali Alizadeh, said here Wednesday that a court will hear the case of Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi starting July 17.

He told IRNA that all preliminary investigations conducted on her death have already been finished and the necessary documents to be presented in court are ready.

He stressed that the case will be tried under Iranian law and jurisprudence, and that the judiciary is determined to see justice done in the case.

He further said that the judge is the sole authority that will decide on whether the trial will be open to the public or conducted behind closed doors, adding that nothing has been pronounced in this regard so far.

He, however, gave a hint that the trial could be open.

The case of the death of Zahra Kazemi, who worked as a freelance photojournalist for a Canadian news media, was first referred to the criminal court in Tehran for investigation after Tehran public and revolutionary as well as military courts refused to handle it on the ground it was outside their jurisdiction.

A first hearing on the case was held by the criminal court on October 2, 2003. Five people were arrested for alleged involvement in her death on warrants issued by the court. Four were later released for lack of evidence.

An ad hoc committee formed on the order of President Mohammad Khatami released a report saying Kazemi died from a skull fracture sustained while in custody.

The 53-year-old Iranian photojournalist, who held dual Iranian-Canadian citizenship, worked for the Camera Press Journal.

She was arrested in July while illegally taking pictures from Evin Prison in Tehran and from there whisked away to the information ministry, where she complained of being unwell and was taken to hospital.

She died several days later in hospital, the cause of her death stated to be brain hemorrhage.

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

Ottawa recalled its ambassador here, Philip MacKinnon, while Iran summoned the Canadian charge d'affaires, Gilles Poirier, to explain the mysterious circumstances behind the death of a 19-year-old Iranian in Vancouver based on evidence pointing to the Canadian police's involvement.

Following the completion of the special committee's investigations, the file was sent to Branch 1158 of the Justice Department charged with investigating criminal offenses on June 25, 2003.

... Payvand News - 5/19/04 ... --

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