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Page last updated at 19:47 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 20:47 UK

Iran doctor tells of Neda's death

"We heard a gunshot. Neda was standing a metre away from me... I saw blood gushing out of her chest"

The doctor who tried to save an Iranian protester as she bled to death on a street in Tehran has told the BBC of her final moments.

Dr Arash Hejazi, who is studying at a university in the south of England, said he ran to Neda Agha-Soltan's aid after seeing she had been shot in the chest.

Despite his attempts to stop the bleeding she died in less than a minute, he said.

Video of Ms Soltan's death was posted on the internet and images of her have become a rallying point for Iranian opposition supporters around the world.

Dr Hejazi also told how passers-by then seized an armed Basij militia volunteer who appeared to admit shooting Ms Soltan.

Dr Hejazi said he had not slept for three nights following the incident, but he wanted to speak out so that her death was not in vain.

He doubted that he would be able to return to Iran after talking openly about Ms Soltan's killing.

Neda Agha-Soltan
Neda Agha-Soltan was shot in the chest

"I was there with some friends because we had heard that there were some protests and we decided to go and take a look," he said.

"Anti-riot police were coming by motorcycles towards the crowd."

Dr Hejazi said he saw Ms Soltan, who he did not know, with an older man who he thought was her father but later on learned was her music teacher.

"Suddenly everything turned crazy. The police threw teargas and the motorcycles started rushing towards the crowd. We ran to an intersection and people were just standing. They didn't know what to do.

"We heard a gunshot. Neda was standing one metre away from me. I turned back and I saw blood gushing out of Neda's chest.

"She was in a shocked situation, just looking at her chest. Then she lost her control.

"We ran to her and lay her on the ground. I saw the bullet wound just below the neck with blood gushing out.

"I have never seen such a thing because the bullet, it seemed to have blasted inside her chest, and later on, blood exiting from her mouth and nose.

US-Iranian women protest in Los Angeles
Ms Soltan has become a rallying point for protesters around the world

"I had the impression that it had hit the lung as well. Her blood was draining out of her body and I was just putting pressure on the wound to try to stop the bleeding, which wasn't successful unfortunately, and she died in less than one minute."

Dr Hejazi said he first thought the gunshot had come from a rooftop.

But later he saw protesters grab an armed man on a motorcycle.

"People shouted 'we got him, we got him'. They disarmed him and took out his identity card which showed he was a Basij member. People were furious and he was shouting, 'I didn't want to kill her'.

"People didn't know what do to do with him so they let him go. But they took his identity card. There are people there who know who he is. Some people were also taking photos of him."

Dr Hejazi said he knew he was putting himself in jeopardy by talking about what happened.

"It was a tough decision to make to come out and talk about it but she died for a cause. She was fighting for basic rights... I don't want her blood to have been shed in vain."

He added: "She died on the streets to say something."

Dr Hejazi said he did not believe he could now return to Iran.

"They are going to denounce what I am saying. They are going to put so many things on me. I have never been in politics. I am jeopardising my situation because of the innocent look in her (Neda's) eyes."




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