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Reporters Without Borders supports Canada's proposal for Kazemi autopsy

Reporters Without Borders today said it supports Canada's proposal to the Iranian authorities that three forensic experts - a Canadian, an Iranian and one chosen jointly by both parties - should carry out an autopsy on the body of Zahra Kazemi, a journalist with both Canadian and Iranian nationality, to determine how she died while detained in Iran in July 2003.

"We also reiterate our support for the demand by Zahra Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi, and the Canadian government for her body to be repatriated to Canada," the press freedom organization said. "We find it unacceptable that Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharazi continues to ignore the Canadian foreign ministry's appeals."

Reporters Without Borders added : "It is clear to us that Iran wishes to ensure that those responsible for Zahra Kazemi's death continue to remain unpunished and we call on the international community, especially the European Union, to support the Canadians' legitimate requests."

The utmost secrecy surrounds the circumstances of Kazemi's death and the investigation appears to have come to a complete halt. Many questions have been posed by a group of lawyers representing the victim's family but they remain unanswered. Why has the identity of all of Kazemi's interrogators not been revealed ? Who falsified the interrogation reports ? Why do the Iranian courts continue to reject statements by several witnesses present during the interrogation sessions who say a senior prison official hit Kazemi on the head ? Why do the authorities refuse to let independent experts examine her body ?

Only an autopsy would enable all the interested parties to confirm or dismiss a recent claim by Dr. Shahram Aazam, a physician who is now refugee in Canada, that Kazemi was raped and tortured in prison. Aazam says he knows this because he was the first person to examine Kazemi when she was brought unconscious to a Tehran hospital four days after her arrest.

Aged 54 and normally resident in Canada, Kazemi was arrested on 23 June 2003 as she was photographing the relatives of detainees outside Evin prison in the north to Tehran. Beaten while in custody, she died of her injuries on 10 July 2003. The Iranian authorities tried to cover up what happened and a report issued on 20 July 2003 failed to explain how the blow that caused her death was inflicted.

Against the wishes of her son, who has French and Canadian nationality and lives in Canada, Kazemi's body was hastily buried on 22 July 2003 in Shiraz, in southern Iran. Her mother publicly acknowledged that pressure was put on her to authorize the burial. Since then, Canada's requests for the body to be exhumed and repatriated to Canada have been ignored.

... Payvand News - 4/13/05 ... --

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