Kazemi was deliberately killed, says Iran's Ebadi    Mon. 25 Jul 2005



TEHRAN - Lawyers representing the family of a Canadian photographer who died in custody in Iran said on Monday she was deliberately killed and demanded an impartial court retry the case.

Zahra Kazemi, a Montreal-based photojournalist, died in July 2003 after her skull was split after being arrested for taking photographs outside
Tehran's Evin prison where many political dissidents are held.

"Forensic reports show her head was hit in two spots and based on Islamic penal code, this cannot be unintentional," 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, one of the four lawyers acting for Kazemi's family, told the court hearing.

But the judge said a preliminary court had already found the killing had been 'unintentional' and said Monday's hearing was not in a position to discuss the issue.

Ebadi said previous courts were biased and asked the Judiciary to send the case to an impartial court.

"If justice is not served in
Iran, I will appeal to international courts and human rights organizations," Ebadi told Reuters.

The case severely damaged ties between
Iran and Canada. Ottawa has twice withdrawn its ambassador and in May froze most ties with Tehran, accusing Iranian authorities of failing to investigate the death properly. Though Iranian-born, Kazemi had taken Canadian citizenship.

Foreign media were barred from Monday's court hearing.

"I do not consider this hearing as an open court hearing. Why were foreign media not allowed to attend at the hearing?" Ebadi asked.

Iran's conservative judiciary initially said Kazemi had died of a stroke but an investigation by the reformist government revealed she had received a heavy blow during questioning which caused a brain haemorrhage.

The judiciary last year acquitted an intelligence agent charged with the murder of Kazemi and argued she had died in an accident, hitting her head after fainting.

At the last hearing of the appeal in May, lawyers for Kazemi's family argued the original court did not have jurisdiction to rule in such the case.