Iranian court told Canadian was tortured to death
18 July 2004
TEHRAN: Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi was tortured to death in Iranian custody, her tearful mother has told a court after the trial resumed of an intelligence agent accused of the killing.
"There were burns on my daughter's chest, her fingers and toes and nose were broken...she was tortured to death," Ezzat Kazemi told the court yesterday after a nine-month delay in proceedings.
The case has strained Iran's relations with Canada, prompting Ottawa to withdraw its ambassador this week, and has exposed deep rifts between President Mohammad Khatami's reformist government and the hardline judiciary.
The intelligence agent, Mohammad Reza Aqdam, has denied a charge of what the court calls the semi-intentional murder of Kazemi, a 54-year-old of Iranian descent who was arrested outside Tehran's Evin prison last July for taking photographs.
The charge, lesser than murder or manslaughter, carries a possible penalty of up to three years in jail and the payment of blood money to the victim's family.
The judiciary initially said Kazemi died of a stroke, but a government inquiry ordered by Khatami showed she received a heavy blow which split her skull, causing a brain haemorrhage. She died in hospital 10 days after lapsing into a coma.
During more than 72 hours in Evin prison, Kazemi was interrogated separately by police, judiciary and Intelligence Ministry officials.
"I have complaints against all of those involved in her arrest and murder," said Ezzat Kazemi, adding she wanted other people brought to justice in the case.
Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, representing Kazemi's family at the trial, accused the judiciary of ignoring evidence pointing to other suspects, including a judiciary official named Mohammad Bakhshi.
"She was hit on the head by Bakhshi shortly after she was arrested," Ebadi told the court.
"After being beaten, she fell and could not walk," said Ebadi, adding: "Why has this not been mentioned in the case?"
Ebadi demanded the case should be sent to a higher court and called for many senior officials, including Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi, to appear as witnesses.
Tehran's Deputy Prosecutor Jafar Reshadati denied any judiciary involvement in Kazemi's death, but Ebadi and Canadian officials believe the intelligence officer is being used as a scapegoat to protect senior judiciary officials.
In a sign of rifts between the government and judiciary over the case, Khatami and the Intelligence Ministry have suggested the charge against Aqdam is politically motivated.
Khatami, now in his last year in office, has faced constant opposition from powerful hardliners who have resisted his efforts to improve civil rights and the rule of law.
Canada announced the withdrawal of its ambassador on Wednesday after Tehran rejected Ottawa's request for three Canadian observers at the trial.
The Dutch ambassador to Iran, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, and a British diplomat attended the court hearing.
Canada briefly recalled its ambassador last year when Iran ignored the wishes of Kazemi's son for her body to be returned home for burial. She was buried at her birthplace in south Iran.
"They forced me and threatened me to accept to bury her here. Is this Islam?" Ezzat Kazemi told the court
Encyclopedia on Iranian women published
Tehran, July 18, IRNA -- The first encyclopedia on Iranian women was published on Saturday.
The sponsor of the work titled 'Iranian women' was the Women Partnership Center affiliated to the Presidential Office which supported the project in cooperation with the Great Persian Encyclopedia Foundation affiliated to the Ministry of Sciences, Researches and Technology.
In the two-volume book, a short report on the situation of Iranian poetesses, women artists, writers, journalists and politicians has been presented.
The encyclopedia contains around 2,200 topics about distinguished women in the history of Iran.
Women's repression increases across Iran
SMCCDI (Information Service)
July 17, 2004
The increase of women's repression, by the Islamic regime,
has lead to more sporadic clashes and arrests in the recent
days as the victims are intending often to resist the new
wave of governmental harassment. Women are arrested,
flogged or "forced to put their legs in bags full of
cockroaches" for the non observance of the mandatory veil
imposed by the regime's militiamen deployed in main public
The arrested, often young girls, are in most cases forced
to pass a "virginity test" and are kept for 24 hours after
their files are completed without any contact with their
families unaware of their fates.
Orders have been issued to the notorious General Ghalibaf
in order to confiscate drivers licenses and not issuing
passports for any female with a poor veiling history.
Shops displaying modern female closing or businesses and
restaurants admitting "bad veiled women" are fined or
forced to close.
It's to note that the Islamic regime, in a Machiavellian
advanced preparation for another reformist scenario which
shall start with the future Islamic Presidential Elections
of 2005, intends to make Iranian women to regret having
boycotted its last sham elections and ridiculizing the
so-called reform policy. Such psychological trick is backed
by the well known gender discrimination which is one of the
main pillars of the backwarded Islamist ideology
considering "females as half a man and source of bad
Iran linked to Sept 11: report
05:51 AEST Sun Jul 18 2004
AFP - The September 11 commission's report, due out Thursday, says Iran may have facilitated the 2001 attacks on the United States by providing eight to 10 al-Qaeda hijackers with safe passage to and from training camps in Afghanistan, media reports said.
Time and Newsweek, in similar reports quoting congressional, commission and government sources, said Iran relaxed border controls and provided "clean" passports for the so-called "muscle hijackers" to transit Iran to and from Osama bin Laden's camps between October 2000 and February 2001.
And, according to Time, the report says Iran at one point proposed collaborating with al-Qaeda on attacks against America, but bin Laden declined, saying he did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia.
Newsweek said the Iranian finding in the commission's report is based largely on a December 2001 memo discovered buried in the files of the US National Security Agency.
The memo, according to Newsweek, says "Iranian border inspectors were instructed not to place stamps in the passports of al-Qaeda fighters from Saudi Arabia who were travelling from bin Laden's camps through Iran."
Time said commission investigators "found that Iran had a history of allowing al-Qaeda members to enter and exit Iran across the Afghan border," a practice they said dated back to October 2000.
Iranian officials, Time said, issued "specific instructions to their border guards ... not to put stamps in the passports of al-Qaeda personnel and otherwise not harass them and to facilitate their travel across the frontier."
"The new discovery about Iran's assistance to al-Qaeda," said Newsweek, "is among the most surprising new findings" in the 500-page report compiled by the non-partisan commission.
The New York Times said the commission report would also recommend creation of an intelligence czar, a cabinet-level post that would take power from the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Council and the Pentagon to oversee intelligence gathering said to have been lacking before and after September 11.
Iran will pay economic price if continues nuke programmes
Press Trust of India - Report Section
Jul 17, 2004
WASHINGTON - Maintaining that Iran has not given up the quest to acquire a nuclear weapon through dual use technology, the US has said if the country doesn't give it up, it will pay an unacceptable economic price.
"It is not an idle threat. Most of the world wanted to look the other way on Iranian programme. But President Bush focused on it and the US made it a matter of importance in its agenda with Russia, which was building nuclear plants in Iran," Secretary of State Colin Powell said.
He indicated that the US considers both Iran and North Korea vulnerable to economic sanctions.
"We were able to provide information to the IAEA, as did others, that we have finally discovered in a way that is indisputable that Iran was moving in that direction. Iran was hiding things and moving towards acquiring a nuclear weapon."
Observing that the country has enough oil to take care of all of its energy needs and a good part of the world's energy needs for a long time to come, the US Secretary of State said, "it is our considered judgment that whatever civilian purpose it might have had, it had a principal purpose of moving them towards the development of a nuclear weapon."
"This is a nuclear weapons programme," he said adding "they went out of their way to hide facilities, to deceive the international community as to what was happening."
The Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Britain got engaged in this on behalf of the EU and got commitments from Iran that it would be forthcoming and stop all this activity, Powell said.