Iran General NewsDocumentary evidence bolsters claims in Kazemi case

Documentary evidence bolsters claims in Kazemi case

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The Globe and Mail: Even as Iran’s Foreign Ministry accused Canada of taking the “wrong approach” in the Zahra Kazemi case, Ottawa released documentary evidence yesterday bolstering recent claims that the 54-year-old Canadian photojournalist was tortured and raped by Iranian security police before she died.Ten days ago, Shahram Azam, an Iranian military doctor and former Tehran emergency-room physician who examined Ms. Kazemi before she died, released gruesome details of the abuse she suffered while in Iranian custody.
The Globe and Mail

Ottawa releases papers backing doctor’s allegations in death of photojournalist

By MICHAEL DEN TANDT

Page A6

With a report from AFP

OTTAWA – Even as Iran’s Foreign Ministry accused Canada of taking the “wrong approach” in the Zahra Kazemi case, Ottawa released documentary evidence yesterday bolstering recent claims that the 54-year-old Canadian photojournalist was tortured and raped by Iranian security police before she died.

Ten days ago, Shahram Azam, an Iranian military doctor and former Tehran emergency-room physician who examined Ms. Kazemi before she died, released gruesome details of the abuse she suffered while in Iranian custody.

The Iranian government immediately denied that Dr. Azam was ever on the staff of Baghiatollah hospital, where he says he examined Ms. Kazemi early on the morning of June 27, 2003.

“Of course I’m not surprised,” Dr. Azam said yesterday of Iran’s response.

“If they admitted that I am who I say, they would be discrediting themselves.”

Tehran has spurned a personal request from Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew for a new forensic examination of Ms. Kazemi’s remains.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry accused Canada of mishandling the case. “Unfortunately Canada has been following a wrong approach from the very beginning, and caused things to get more complicated,” spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in Tehran.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs released translations of key documentary evidence it used last November in determining that Dr. Azam’s account is true.

This includes an official letter from the Iranian Ministry of the Interior instructing Baghiatollah Hospital to employ Dr. Azam in its emergency room, for up to 120 hours a month.

It also includes a timesheet from the hospital showing Dr. Azam had worked an 18-hour shift beginning on the afternoon of June 26, 2003, and ending early the following morning.

The Globe and Mail obtained the hospital documents independently and commissioned a separate translation, which corroborates the Department of Foreign Affairs’ version.

In addition, The Globe and Mail has obtained a copy of handwritten notes made by Dr. Azam during his preliminary examination of Ms. Kazemi.

An independent translation of the notes closely matches Dr. Azam’s exhaustive account at an Ottawa news conference 10 days ago.

The notes say she was admitted to the hospital at 11:30 p.m., dehydrated and in a coma. They list the severe bruising, deep scratches, crushed bones and genital trauma that Dr. Azam concluded were evidence of torture and rape.

“These documents add even further to the already insurmountable weight of credibility [of Dr. Azam”>,” said John Terry, a lawyer for Ms. Kazemi’s son, Stephan Hachemi.

He noted that Iran has offered no documentation to support its claim that Dr. Azam’s story is false. In particular, Mr. Terry said, Iran has never provided evidence from any other doctor who might have examined Ms. Kazemi.

Last week, an Iranian political figure, former reformist MP Hossein Ansari Rad, who led an abridged internal inquiry into the murder in 2003, corroborated parts of Dr. Azam’s story.

Yesterday, Dr. Azam said he has no regrets about going public. He said through an interpreter that he now hopes the case will be heard in the International Court of Justice, “so that justice will be served and the government that did this will be punished.”

Mr. Hachemi’s legal team continues to press the federal government to take more aggressive steps against Iran.

Specifically, Mr. Hachemi’s lawyers have asked for changes to the State Immunity Act that would make it possible for victims of torture to sue foreign governments in Canadian courts. And they want Canada to press a formal claim for compensation from Iran at the international level.

They are scheduled to meet for a second time with senior Canadian government officials on April 20.

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