Iran - Five years after the unexplained death of Zahra Kazemi, Reporters Without Borders condemns new inquiry for lack of independence



    MONTREAL, July 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra
Kazemi died exactly five years ago tomorrow (10 July) from a cerebral
haemorrhage following beatings she received in Evin prison, Tehran. In January
2008, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial because of irregularities that
affected the appeal court's verdict in November 2005.
    "Five years after the death of Zahra Kazemi and despite the decision to
reopen the case, we have received no assurance that the second investigation
will be carried out independently and without interference from the public
prosecutor, Said Mortazavi", Reporters Without Borders said. "His involvement
in the journalist's death is recognised although he has never been called to
account for it. We are afraid this inquiry will be meaningless and will not
lead to the identification of all those involved in the death."
    The Tehran province high court began re-examining the case on 17 March
2008. At that first hearing, attended by lawyers for the journalist's family,
Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and Mohammed Sifzadeh, the court agreed to
look into a complaint filed by her son, Stephan Hachimi. He has always called
for his mother's body to be repatriated to Canada for an independent autopsy,
but the journalist's mother was put under pressure to allow a hasty burial in
the southern town of Chiraz on 22 July 2003. Requests for Hachimi to be
exhumed have so far remained unanswered.
    The family lawyers have several times condemned the case as a travesty of
justice. Their requests for leading members of the judiciary to be summoned
have always been refused, denying them access to key witnesses. Said Mortazavi
has never given evidence, even though he was originally responsible for
Kazemi's arrest and was there when she was interrogated in Evin prison.
Reporters Without Borders supports the lawyers' request for "a full, free and
fair investigation" and "the appointment of a completely independent judge".
    Following strong pressure from Canada and an inquiry by the Iranian
parliament, the judiciary said intelligence agent Reza Aghdam Ahmadi was
responsible for the journalist's death but he was cleared by the Tehran appeal
court in November 2005. Since then the Iranian authorities have made no
further arrests.
    Kazemi, 54, was arrested on 23 June 2003 as she was taking photos of
prisoners' relatives outside Evin jail.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Reporters Without Borders
Canada, Executive director, (514) 521-4111, cell: (514) 258-4188,
rsfcanada@rsf.org

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