Iran Human RightsIranian lawyers appeal over slain photojournalist

Iranian lawyers appeal over slain photojournalist

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Reuters: Human rights lawyers on Monday accused Iran’s hardline judiciary of permitting an illegal trial that acquitted a government agent of the killing of a Canadian photojournalist. However, a judge gave the lawyers’ arguments short shrift and indefinitely postponed giving his verdict on their appeal, one of the human rights team said. Reuters

TEHRAN – Human rights lawyers on Monday accused Iran’s hardline judiciary of permitting an illegal trial that acquitted a government agent of the killing of a Canadian photojournalist.

However, a judge gave the lawyers’ arguments short shrift and indefinitely postponed giving his verdict on their appeal, one of the human rights team said.

Zahra Kazemi, 54, died of a brain hemorrhage in Iranian custody in July 2003 after her skull was split by a blunt object. She had been arrested for taking photographs of Tehran’s feared Evin prison, home to many political dissidents.

Iran’s judiciary last July acquitted an Intelligence Ministry agent of killing Kazemi and said she died in an accident, striking her head when she fainted.

But lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, representing the family of the Montreal-based reporter, launched an appeal on Monday, saying the court which acquitted the agent did not have jurisdiction to rule on such a case.

“Because the case involves a deliberate murder only a provincial court can investigate the case but neither this court nor the earlier ones in her case were provincial,” he told Reuters.

Despite assurances they would be admitted, reporters were turned away from the closed appeal session.

Kazemi’s death severely damaged Tehran’s diplomatic relations with Canada.

Dadkhah, who is fighting the Kazemi case with three other lawyers, said he had raised objections to the way his team’s objections had been ignored in the past.

“The whole world is watching this case,” Dadkhah said he told the court. But it made little impact.

“The judge did not see eye-to-eye with us,” he said.

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