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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Iran orders new trial in death of Canadian photographer Kazemi

Iranian court reopens Zahra Kazemi case

Iran's Supreme Court has ordered a new investigation into the death of the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, while in custody in 2003.
Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said the court had objected to the acquittal in 2004 of an intelligence agent accused of beating her to death.

He said judges had "found some formal flaws" in previous investigations.

Kazemi, 54, died in Tehran in July 2003 having received head injuries during more than three days of interrogation.

She was arrested on 23 June 2003 while taking photographs outside Evin prison in the north of the capital, but was never formally charged with any offence.

The case severely strained relations between the Canadian and Iranian governments.


A presidential inquiry initially conducted into the journalist's death found that Kazemi had been killed by a "physical attack" while being held in custody in June 2003.

The verification branch found some formal flaws and had an objection regarding the jurisdiction of the court that dealt with the case
Ali Reza Jamshidi,
Iranian judiciary spokesman

In September 2003, the judiciary charged an intelligence ministry agent, Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, with "semi-intentional murder". He pleaded not guilty at the opening of his trial a month later.

Mr Ahmadi was eventually acquitted in July 2004 "due to lack of sufficient evidence", a ruling that prompted the judiciary to conclude that Kazemi's head injuries had been the result of a fall caused by a drop in blood pressure brought on by a hunger strike.

In July 2005, a higher court rejected an appeal to investigate the death, saying it had no jurisdiction to reopen the case.

However, four months later an appeals court ordered the case to be reopened and upheld Mr Ahmadi's acquittal.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Jamshidi said the verification branch of Iran's Supreme Court had reviewed the lower courts' rulings and ordered a new investigation to be undertaken by the judiciary.

"The verification branch found some formal flaws and had an objection regarding the jurisdiction of the court that dealt with the case," he said.

"The file has been sent to the competent authority for investigation."

Canada has repeatedly demanded that Iran agree to an international investigation into the journalist's death.

Story from BBC NEWS:


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