TEHRAN 8 Oct. (IPS) The raw between the leader-controlled Judiciary and the Executive escalated Wednesday to new heights after senior tenors from the government came out strongly in defending the Intelligence Ministry, accused of being behind the murder of Ms. Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-born, Canadian photojournalist killed in prison.

The office of Tehran and the Islamic Revolution Court, accuses Mr. Mohammad Reza Aqdam Ahmadi, an employee of the Intelligence Ministry, for having killed the photographer.

Ms. Kazemi was arrested on 23 June while taking pictures of the families of detained political prisoners demonstrating near the notorious Evin prison in the outskirts of the Capital and taken to prison, where she had been interrogated by the Prosecutor, Mr. Sa’id Mortazavi as well as officials from the Law Enforcement intelligence department and the Intelligence Ministry.

She died on 10 of July in a hospital belonging to the Revolutionary Guards from severe injuries on her skull, the result of a blow by a “heavy object” to her head, according to a five men team formed on orders from President Mohammad Khatami.

At first, the authorities said she had died of a brain stroke, but they changed the version, admitting that one or more of the interrogators hit Ms. Kazemi.

Immediately, the fingers pointed to Mr. Mortazavi, who had ordered the arrest, on charges of espionage. According to the French newspaper “Liberation”, Mr. Mortazavi, trying to force Ms. Kazemi “confessing” to espionage, hit her with his shoe.

But the Prosecutor, put in charge of the case, accused Intelligence Ministry’s interrogators for the assassination and at the same time refused requests from both Canada and Ms. Kazemi’s son, who is living in Montreal, and mother, to transfer the body to Canada for autopsy.

From the outset, the Intelligence Ministry denied that its employees had anything to do with the murder and thretened to “tell all the story” if the Judiciary continued in its “fabricated” accusations.

However, Mr. Ahmadi was brought to Court on Monday, accused of having hit Ms. Kazemi while interrogating her.

Mr. Ahmadi denied all the charges during the first session of trial, which was open to the public and the prsence of the press and the Canadian diplomts in Tehran.

“It is not clear why Mr. Mortazavi, who also had personally interrogated the photojournalist is not questionned in order to understnad what happened at that time?”, asked Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Ali Abtahi, the Vice-president for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on Tuesday.

He was echoed on Wednesday by the powerless President, repeating that the Intelligence Ministry had never accepted the charges.

“What I want is justice to be applied according to the laws”, he told newmen at the Majles, wher he was introducing the new Higher Education Minister, Mr. Ahmad Tofiqi.

“The Intelligence Ministry feels that it is unjustly victimised and the process is not fair”, he pointed out, adding that in this case, even the lawyer (of the accused) had been denied access to legal documents”.

For its part, the Intelligence Ministry rejected the charges and renewed its threats on Wednesday that it would directly address the public, but stopped short of explaing when?

“No one could destabilise the regime’s most powerfull intelligence organisation as did the office of the leader”, said Mr. Ahmad Salamatian, a respected analyst of Iranian affairs based in Paris.

Hinting indirectly that Mr. Mortazavi, better known by the public as “The Buthcer of the press” is a protege of Mr. Khameneh’i, Mr. Salamatian told the Persian service of the BBC the reason the Intelligence Ministry do not go along telling the public all the information it has over the case, it is because pressures coming from the office of the leader. ENDS JOURNALIST KILLED 81003