AP: Iran rejected Tuesday a Canadian demand for an international team of forensic scientists to examine the corpse of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who died in its custody. Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Canadian photographer of Iranian origin, died in July 2003, several days after being arrested for taking photos of a demonstration outside a Tehran prison. Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran rejected Tuesday a Canadian demand for an international team of forensic scientists to examine the corpse of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who died in its custody.
Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Canadian photographer of Iranian origin, died in July 2003, several days after being arrested for taking photos of a demonstration outside a Tehran prison.
Hard-line authorities said she died of a stroke, but a commission appointed by Iran’s president found Kazemi died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage that were caused by the impact of a hard object. Iranian reformists have said she was tortured to death.
A doctor who claims to have examined Kazemi in hospital, Shahram Azam, said her body bore injuries consistent with torture and rape. His allegation prompted Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew to demand an international forensic examination.
“Such a demand does not conform with Iranian laws or international regulations,” the spokesman for Iran’s judges, Jamal Karimirad, told reporters Tuesday.
“Kazemi was an Iranian citizen. Although she also had Canadian nationality, under Iran’s laws, an additional citizenship doesn’t negate her Iranian nationality. Therefore, Iran’s judiciary is competent to carry out the investigation,” Karimirad said.
Azam spoke about Kazemi’s injuries after moving to Canada. He said he examined Kazemi in a Tehran hospital emergency ward after she was transferred from Evin prison.
On Tuesday, Karimirad denied Azam had examined Kazemi. He dismissed Azam’s comments as “baseless and false” and hinted they were made to gain political asylum in Canada.
“The name of this person doesn’t exist in any of the (official) documents. This person for some reason has won the confidence of the Canadian government to obtain asylum,” Karimirad said.
Last year, an Iranian court acquitted secret agent Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi of killing Kazemi. Lawyers representing Kazemi’s relatives have conceded that Ahmadi was not guilty, but they believe Kazemi was beaten to death by a hard-line prison official.
Hard-liners were angered when the lawyers – led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, accused a prison official, whom they named, of inflicting the fatal blow.
Karimirad said Kazemi’s case has not been shelved and that lawyers of the family have been invited to hear explanations about the case in May. He did not elaborate, but he said the court would listen to the lawyers’ objections.