Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Canada demands justice over photographer murdered in Iran

Yahoo News:
Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said he had told his Iranian counterpart that Ottawa expected justice to be rendered in the murder of Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi.

Pettigrew had a rare meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki here Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"I have indicated to him that Canada was determined in going to the bottom of Madame Kazemi's case," he told reporters.

"That lady was raped, beaten and killed," he said. "Justice must be rendered... They owed it to Madame Kazemi, they owed it to the international community as well." READ MORE

Kazemi, who was 54, died in custody in Tehran in 2003 July after being arrested for photographing a demonstration outside a Tehran prison. Family lawyers have accused the Iranian judiciary of a cover-up, a charge backed by Ottawa.

Iran's previous reformist government acknowledged Kazemi was violently beaten in prison, although the judiciary has also said she may have died after a fall.

"This is before the court. The (Kazemi) family has asked for an appeal. I told the minister yesterday that we expected that appeal to take place, to stop dragging their feet," Pettigrew said.

He said that Mottaki responded by saying that the justice system in Iran was independent from the government.

On Monday, Iran's judiciary said it has reached a verdict in the appeals process on the Kazemi case but that the result of the appeal was still being typed out.

Last July a Tehran court acquitted an intelligence agent accused of giving the journalist a mortal blow to the head while she was in custody two years ago.

Kazemi family lawyers agree the agent is not guilty, but complain that their efforts to see judiciary officials questioned during the appeals process were blocked.

The official news agency IRNA on Wednesday quoted Mottaki as saying Ottawa was guilty of "propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran while the case was transparently taking its course".

Pettigrew also commented on the case of Keyvan Tabesh, an 18-year-old Iranian shot dead by police in Vancouver in 2003.

"The Iranian official line is always to try to make an equivalent comparison (with the Kazemi case) whereas they know very well that there's just no parallel, no equivalence that can ever possibly be drawn there," he told reporters here.

The police officer involved in the Vancouver shooting has been cleared of any wrong-doing by Canadian criminal investigators. An internal police review concluded Tabesh ran toward the officer waving a machete and ignored his warnings before being gunned down.

"The verdict on the Tabesh case was released without any transparency and without any trial," Mottaki was quoted as saying by Irna.

The two cases have badly strained relations between Ottawa and Tehran.