“She died of a brain haemorrhage resulting from beatings,” said Vice President Ali Abtahi in a press conference, giving the preliminary results of a probe by a government team investigating Zahra Kazemi’s death.

Kazemi, 54, was detained on June 23 for taking pictures of Tehran's Evin prison. She was later pronounced dead after falling into a coma.

Officials in Tehran are refusing to allow Canada to conduct its own investigation into her death

Kazemi’s son, Stephan Hachemi, 26, has demanded that her body should be returned to Canada for an independent autopsy.

"We are knowledgeable enough to examine the body and find out the cause of her death, so we will not allow foreign teams to investigate," Health Minister Massoud Pezeshkian told AFP.

Pezeshkian said he examined Kazemi’s body himself and said that there were no bruises or cuts on her face. 

"We are going to examine the corpse again and I will view the report, and I have appointed a medical team to look into this case,” he added.

Tense Iran-Canada relations

Zahra Kazemi was reporting on
recent student demonstrations

 

Initially, the Iranian government said Kazemi had died of a stroke after falling ill during her first police interview.

Her relatives insisted she had been tortured and beaten into a coma by her interrogators, and a human rights group called for an independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding Kazemi’s death.

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami responded by ordering on Sunday four ministers to investigate Kazemi’s death saying that "if a crime has been committed, we must act according to the law."

Relations between Tehran and Ottawa have become strained over the case.

Canadian deputy prime minister John Manley said on Monday that bilateral relations would be damaged if Kazemi's body was not returned.

Iran's Interior Minister Abd al-wahed Moussavi-Lari said Kazemi's death had nothing to do with Canada "since she is an Iranian citizen."

Kazemi, a Canadian citizen who held an Iranian passport, was in Tehran to take pictures of the recent student protests for the British agency Camera Press.