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Archive for Sunday, July 25, 2004

Only defendant acquitted in Iran journalist’s death

July 25, 2004

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— A Tehran court acquitted the sole defendant in the murder of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist, the lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate representing the victim's mother told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Shirin Ebadi, who is the chief lawyer for the mother of slain photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, said the legal proceedings were flawed.

"I'm required to work until my last breath to make sure that justice is done to my client," Ebadi said.

She threatened to take the matter to international organizations if the Iranian judiciary failed to carry out justice.

"I'll protest this verdict. If the appeals court and other legal stages fail to heed our objections, we will use all domestic and international facilities to meet the legal rights of my client," Ebadi said.

Kazemi, a Canadian freelance journalist of Iranian origin, died July 10, 2003, while in detention for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during student-led protests against the ruling theocracy.

Iranian authorities initially said Kazemi died of a stroke but a presidential committee later found she died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage.

The agent charged with murdering Kazemi, Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, pleaded not guilty on July 17 and the trial was abruptly ended the next day.

Hard-liners were angered when the defense team led by Ebadi accused prison official Mohammad Bakhshi of inflicting the fatal blow to Kazemi and the conservative judiciary of illegally detaining her.

Ebadi, who leads a four-member legal team, accused the court of deliberately failing to carry out justice.

"If the court had summoned the people we named during the trial for explanation, it could have accurately identified the people who committed the murder," she said.

Ebadi said filing a case against Bakhshi still remained an option before she would turn to international organizations.

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