Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2003

Iranian calls journalist’s death ‘murder’

July 31, 2003

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— An Iranian-Canadian journalist who died in police custody this month was murdered, Iran's vice president said Wednesday in the first official admission that Zahra Kazemi was beaten to death.

Earlier government statements, including a report from a presidential committee, had acknowledged that the 54-year-old Kazemi died July 10 from head injuries, but suggested it could have been an accident.

"The murder was caused by brain hemorrhage due to a blow inflicted on her," Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

The presidential committee, while shying from calling the death intentional, had previously discredited an initial official report that Kazemi died from a stroke. The panel said she suffered a skull fracture "resulting from a hard object hitting the head or the head hitting a hard object."

Kazemi, an Iranian who lived in Montreal, died nearly three weeks after she was detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during student-led protests. After 77 hours of interrogation, she was taken to a hospital controlled by hard-line Revolutionary Guards, where she died 14 days later.

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