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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 00:57 GMT 01:57 UK
Canada tackles Iran over reporter
Zahra Kazemi
Zahra Kazemi was arrested while taking photos of Evin prison
Canada has made its strongest call to date for Iran to take action against those responsible for the violent death of one of a Canadian journalist.

Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian Canadian, died as a result of a severe blow to the head on 10 July after her arrest in Tehran on 23 June, the Iranian authorities say.

The Iranian prosecutor responsible for ordering her arrest was appointed on Monday to head the investigation into her death, much to Iranian liberals' dismay.

The BBC's Lee Carter reports from Toronto that it seems that Canada, after initial caution, is now losing patience with the authorities in Tehran.

Foreign Minister Bill Graham said that only the "full and swift prosecution" of those responsible for Ms Kazemi's death would "clearly demonstrate that [Iranian] officials are not allowed to act with impunity".

"Those responsible for this horrific act must be prosecuted," he said.

"The treatment of Ms Kazemi, as detailed in this report, was a flagrant violation of her rights..."

The minister also expressed frustration over delays in repatriating Ms Kazemi's body to Canada, despite the wishes of both her Iranian and Canadian relatives.

Liberal dismay

Ms Kazemi, a 54-year-old photographer, was reportedly arrested for taking pictures of a Tehran prison.

It is thought she was never formally accused of a crime.

Stephan Hachemi, Zahra Kazemi's son
Kazemi's son wants an independent autopsy in Canada
An Iranian presidential report released on Monday said she died in custody from a severe blow to the head which fractured her skull and caused a brain haemorrhage.

The report failed to say how and why the injury was inflicted but called for an independent investigator to conduct an investigation.

The chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, then appointed the Prosecutor General, Saeed Mortazavi, to lead it.

The appointment came just after Iranian MPs had launched a fierce attack on Mr Mortazavi, demanding his resignation for failing to protect Ms Kazemi.

The BBC's Miranda Eeles reports from Tehran that the choice of Mr Mortazavi will come as a blow to reformist politicians.

Many believe he is behind a wave of arrests of journalists and writers over the past month.


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