Iran charges officer with Canadian death

A judge investigating the murder of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist in custody charged an Intelligence Ministry agent with her death, Tehran prosecutor's office said Monday.

    Montreal-based Zahra Kazemi, 54, a Canadian of Iranian descent, died in July of what relatives said were head injuries

    Veteran judge Javad Esmaeili, who has been heading an independent inquiry into the 10 July death of Zahra Kazemi, charged the agent with “semi premeditated murder,” Associated Press reported.

    The charge was not explained.
     
    The agent, whose identity was withheld, is one of two Intelligence Ministry officials charged earlier over Kazemi's death. The prosecutor's office rejected initial charges laid 1 September and called for a more detailed investigation.

    Charges dropped

    "The crime is attributed to one of the (Intelligence Ministry) interrogators and the reasons have been presented in the lawsuit against the accused"

    Iranian government statement

    The judge ruled that the second agent, who was originally accused of Kazemi's murder, would not have to face any charges.
     
    “The crime is attributed to one of the (Intelligence Ministry) interrogators and the reasons have been presented in the lawsuit against the accused,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office said.
      
    The statement said the judge also concluded that the crime was not government sponsored.

    Kazemi, aged 54, died after being detained for three weeks. She was first arrested for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during student protests.

    Brutal interrogation

    After some 77 hours of interrogation, she was rushed to a local hospital where she later died.
     
    Conservative Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said Kazemi died of a stroke, while a presidential-appointed committee discredited this version finding instead that she had died of head injuries sustained while in custody.

    The two versions of the truth represent an ongoing battle in Iran between conservatives and supporters of President Mohammad Khatami and his reformist allies.

    Canada complained to Iran over the earlier handling of Kazemi's case, threatened sanctions and withdrew its ambassador after the photojournalist's body was buried in her birthplace, the city of Shiraz.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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