Iran Human RightsIranian secret police tortured woman to death, says doctor

Iranian secret police tortured woman to death, says doctor

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The Times: A CANADIAN woman photographer who died in Iranian custody after taking pictures of a protest outside the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, was beaten, tortured and raped, an Iranian doctor who fled to Canada said yesterday. Zahra Kazemi, 54, a Canadian citizen born in Iran, was arrested by secret police in June 2003. The Times

From Richard Cleroux in Ottawa

A CANADIAN woman photographer who died in Iranian custody after taking pictures of a protest outside the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, was beaten, tortured and raped, an Iranian doctor who fled to Canada said yesterday.

Zahra Kazemi, 54, a Canadian citizen born in Iran, was arrested by secret police in June 2003. Shahram Azam said that he examined her at a hospital in the capital four days later. She was in a coma and died several days later without regaining consciousness.

Ms Kazemi was the victim of “a very brutal rape”, her skull was fractured and her nose broken and there were strange markings all over her body, Dr Azam said. “The backs of both legs, where the skin had come off, indicated a flogging.”

His account is the first by a medical official from Iran, and contradicts Iranian officials who said that Ms Kazemi fainted while in custody, hit her head on the ground and failed to regain consciousness.

“Everything I saw indicated it was organised torture and not an injury that caused her death,” Dr Azam said. Deep scratches behind her neck “looked like the result of nails digging into the flesh”.

Her right shoulder was bruised, she had two broken fingers, a broken nose, three missing fingernails, a skull fracture, crushed left toe and a burst ear membrane, he said. Male doctors in Iran are not permitted to conduct vaginal examinations, but a nurse found severe abdominal and genital bruising and concluded that it was the result of savage rape. Ms Kazemi had bruises from her abdominal area down to her thighs.

Dr Azam fled from Iran in August after pretending to seek medical treatment in Finland. From there he went to Sweden, where he got in touch with Ms Kazemi’s son, Stephan Hachemi, and the doctor was granted political asylum in Canada.

He landed in Canada on Monday, as a refugee sponsored by the Canadian Government, with his wife and their daughter, aged 12. He refused to say where his family would live in Canada.

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