Reporters Without Borders today hailed comments made yesterday at Oxford University by Iran's ambassador to Britain in which he recognised that Iranian officials killed Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi while she was in custody in Tehran in July 2003.
"We welcome this statement by an official contradicting the position of the Iranian judicial authorities, who concluded that Kazemi's death was accidental, but it is necessary that the authorities in Tehran now confirm what he has said," the press freedom organization said.
"We also call on the judicial authorities to hold a new trial to establish who was responsible for this journalist's death," Reporters Without Borders added.
Questioned during an address at St Antony's College, Oxford, ambassador Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Adeli said, "I don't support the killing by some shrewd security forces of that lady." He added : "We are sorry for it."
Kazemi was arrested on 23 June 2003 as she was photographing the relatives of detainees outside Evin prison. She probably died on 10 July 2003, while still in custody. After trying to cover up for a week, the Iranian authorities finally recognized that she was beaten to death.
Following an Iranian parliamentary enquiry and strong pressure from Canada and elsewhere in the international community, the judicial authorities blamed an intelligence official who had been one of Kazemi's interrogators. He was charged with her death but was then acquitted in a sham trial on 24 July 2004.
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