LEADER APPOINTED PROSECUTOR MORTAZAVI MURDERED ZAHRA KAZEMI
PARIS 17 July (IPS) It is now becoming clear that the man who caused the death of Ms. Zahra Kazemi, the Iranian-born, Canadian photojournalist is Mr. Saíid Mortazavi, promoted recently by Ayatollah Ali Khamenehíi, the leader of the Islamic Republic as the Prosecutor of Tehran and the Islamic Revolution tribunal.
Ms. Kazemi, 54, was detained on 23 June in front of the Evin prison and died in hospital on 11 July of what Iranian officials admitted Wednesday as brain hemorrhage due to "blows" received on her head during interrogations at the Intelligence Ministry.
At first, Iranian authorities said the photographer died from a brain stroke, but on Wednesday, and under mounting pressures from the international human rights and press organizations, Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Ali Abtahi, President Mohammad Khatamiís deputy for legal and parliamentary affairs confirmed for the first time officially that Ms. Kazemi died of brain bleeding "due to blows on her head".
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said during a conference call with media on Wednesday that he had been told by his Iranian counterpart that Ms. Kazemi died of a fractured skull; although how she got the fatal injury had not been determined.
"The incident has no outcome other than tarnishing our international image at a time when we are in deep crisis at home and abroad", Abtahi told journalists.
Informed sources, speaking on conditions of anonymity, revealed Thursday that the arrest of Ms. Kazemi was ordered by Mr. Mortazavi who personally interrogated the photojournalist and beat her "frequently" in order "to force her to reveal the country that had sent her to Iran for espionage".
"Mortazavi personally beat on Kazemiís head with his shoe", the French daily "Liberation" reported on Thursday, quoting "well-informed Iranian sources.
"The men who arrested Ms. Kazemi were plainclothes thugs belonging to Mr. Mortazavi, who interrogated her at his own office. During the 3-4 days she was there, the photographer was under constant tortures and savagely beaten up by Mr. Mortazavi and other interrogators from the Judiciary", confirmed Dr. Karim Lahji, an outstanding Iranian jurist and lawyer based in Paris.
"She was handed over to the Information Ministry after she suffered injuries. There, people, seeing her bad physical state, send her to the medical department, where doctors immediately decided to transfer her to the Baqiatollah hospital, where she went into coma before dying", added Lahiji, who now acts as defence for Ms. Kazemiís 26 years-old Stephen Hachemi.
Both the Iranian Islamic Human Rights Committee and the Majlesí Foreign Affairs and Security Committee have also confirmed that Ms. Kazemi was under the custody of the leader-controlled Judiciary and Tehranís prosecutor, interrogated and tortured before being handed over to the Information Ministry.
Informed sources told Iran Press Service that at least four Iranian journalists, namely Reza Alijani, Hoda Saber, Taqi Rahmani and Amir Teyrani, all close to the Nationalist-religious movements, are in Mortazaviís custody and tortured.
Rejecting demands by the Canadian government, Stephen Hachemi and Iranian and international human rights and press groups for the transfer of Ms. Katemiís body to Montreal for autopsy, Iranian governmentís official spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said on Wednesday that once identified and arrested, the would be culprits would be handed over to the Judiciary, meaning to Judge Mortazavi, the very man that murdered the journalist.
Tehran, which insists adamantly that Ms. Kazemi is an Iranian citizen and never mention her Canadian citizenship, have so far rejected the demands, but promised Ottawa that they would do "all they can" to have the culprits punished according to Iranian laws.
"If proved that she was spying, then there would be no culprits", one Iranian journalist noted, reminding that the Iranian Judiciary would eventually take up that accusation to absolve itself from charges of manslaughter.
Iranian conservatives-controlled newspapers have criticised Mr. Khatami for naming an investigation committee in the case of Ms. Kazemiís death and imply indirectly that she might have been a spy, since she had been arrested while taking pictures near the notorious Evin prison, a restricted area.
"If crimes have been committed, we are demanding of the Iranian government to punish those who committed the crime and we will push that case", Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said after meeting Chilean President Ricardo Lagos.
"Because if it is the case, it's completely unacceptable that a journalist goes there to do professional work and is threatened that way".
In response to a statement by Chretien earlier this week that Canada-Iran relations would be affected if Iran does not transfer Kazemi's body to Canada, Ramezanzadeh said Chretien has not considered international law.
"Kazemi is an Iranian and therefore subject to national law", Ramezanzadeh observed.
But jurists say since Kazemi is also a Canadian citizen, therefore Canada has the right to ask for the body to be returned to her homeland.
In faxes to both the lamed and unpopular Iranian leader and the powerless president, the Rome-based Association of Iranian Journalists Abroad (AIJA) said it holds Mr. Khameneh'i as the "only person responsible for the murder of Ms. Kazemi and asked both men to say:
Who ordered the arrest of Ms. Kazemi?
Who were those who arrested her?
Why the authorities did not report on her arrest?
Where she had been held and who were the interrogators?
Why she was hospitalized in a hospital belonging to the Revolutionary Guards?
Other Iranian experts, speaking to the reformers-controlled "Emrooz" (Today) internet newspaper, asked: Was the photojournalist beaten up and if the answer if positive, why?
Was she also beaten while in prison?
Where was she held before being transferred to hospital?
Why the authorities first claimed Ms. Kazemi died on brain stroke?
Why it was Mortazavi who wrote the news about the death and passed it to Mr. (Mohammad Hoseyn) Khoshvaqt to be published in the name of the Guidance Ministry?
What are the connections between the death of Ms. Kazemi with Mr. Mortazavi?
If the photographer was Iranian, why it was the General Director (of the Guidance Ministry) in charge of Foreign Press that announced the death?
Which organs want the body be buried the soonest possible?
Why it was announced that Ms. Kazemi was a spy? Were the accusations examined? And by which organs? ENDS JOURNALIST DIES 17703