Iran Intelligence Ministry Blames Hardliners in Kazemi Death
August 27, 2003
The Canadian Press
TEHRAN -- Iran's reformists accused hardliners of a coverup, with a parliamentarian reporting Wednesday that a judiciary agent had been blamed for the murder of a Montreal photojournalist who died after being beaten in custody.
Such charges and countercharges have characterized Iran's probe into the death of Zahra Kazemi, which has become the latest battleground in the power struggle between elected reformers and hardliners who control Iran's police force, judiciary and security agencies.
Earlier this week, the hardline Tehran prosecutor, whose office is part of the judiciary, issued a statement in which an independent judge said two Intelligence Ministry agents had been indicted "on charges of involvement in the semi-premeditated murder" of Kazemi. The Intelligence Ministry is loosely controlled by reformists.
Reformist legislator Naser Qavami told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a top Intelligence Ministry official told a closed meeting of parliament late Tuesday that a judiciary official working in the prison where Kazemi was held had beat her, leading to her death.
Qavami did not name the accused judiciary official. Intelligence Ministry officials contacted by the AP also refused to name their suspect.
The legislator said ministry officials also accused the judiciary of moving prison officers who witnessed the beating of Kazemi to different positions and pressuring them not to tell what they saw. During the closed parliament session, the officials also accused the judiciary of tampering with prison records and forcing Intelligence Ministry agents to accept responsibility for the murder.
Kazemi, 54, died July 10, nearly three weeks after being detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during student-led protests. Prisons are under the authority of the hardline judiciary.
Initially, the hardline Tehran prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, was quoted as saying Kazemi had died of a stroke.
On July 30, Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters Kazemi had been murdered. By then, Khatami had called for an independent judicial investigation. Veteran Judge Javad Esmaeili was appointed by the head of hardline judiciary Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to direct the probe.
Kazemi's death was condemned inside and outside Iran. Canada threatened sanctions, and withdrew its ambassador after Kazemi was buried in her birthplace, the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, against the wishes of Canadian authorities and her son, who lives in Montreal.
Tuesday, government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said that the Iranian government had no duty to inform Canada of the results of its investigation into Kazemi's death. In Canada later Tuesday, France Bureau, spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, responded that Graham expects Iran to keep Canada informed.
Graham has said what Canada wants in the Kazemi case is an "understanding why she died, how she died and who will be held responsible."
Kazemi's son Stephan Hachemi told a news conference Tuesday in Montreal that high-ranking Canadian Embassy officials will meet soon with Mortazavi. He said they're going to ask him among other things to return the body of his mother to Canada. http://www.mytelus.com/news/article.do?pageID=world_home&articleID=1392775
"Kazemi's son Stephan Hachemi told a news conference Tuesday in Montreal that high-ranking Canadian Embassy officials will meet soon with Mortazavi."
Wonder if this meeting will ever take place?
There won't be any revelations, if it does.