Iran/Canada - Montreal court hears lawsuit against Iranian government by son of photographer who was beaten to death

    MONTREAL, Feb. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders voices its
support for the civil lawsuit that Stephan Hachemi has brought against the
Iranian government before the Quebec high court claiming damages for the
arrest, detention, torture and death of his mother, Zahra Kazemi, a
photographer with dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship, in Tehran in 2003. A
preliminary three-day hearing was due to begin in Montreal tomorrow, but it
has been postponed to May.
    "Iran has displayed a clear desire to ensure that those responsible for
Kazemi's murder remain unpunished," Reporters Without Borders said. "The
authorities of Canada and the European Union should actively support the
legitimate requests made by the Kazemi family's lawyers and show no leniency
towards Iran in this appalling affair."
    A Canadian resident, 54-year-old Kazemi was arrested on 23 June 2003 as
she was photographing the relatives of detainees outside Evin prison in north
Tehran. She was beaten while in custody and died of her injuries on 10 July
2003. The Iranian authorities issued a report 10 days later recognising her
death was the result of a blow but failing to explain how it was inflicted.
    Under duress, Kazemi's mother, an Iranian resident, agreed to a hasty
burial on 22 July 2003. Ever since then, Kazemi's son, who lives in Canada,
has been asking for the body to be exhumed and repatriated to Canada.
    The Kazemi family's lawyers have repeatedly condemned all the judicial
proceedings in Iran as a sham. Their requests for senior judicial officials to
appear in court have never been satisfied, depriving them of key witnesses.
Above all, Tehran chief prosecutor Said Mortazavi, who ordered Kazemi's arrest
and was present when she was interrogated in Evin prison, has never been
questioned in court.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111,

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