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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 April, 2005, 00:20 GMT 01:20 UK
Canada renews pressure on Tehran
Zahra Kazemi
Kazemi was arrested for taking photos outside a Tehran prison
Canada has renewed its demands on Iran to return the body of journalist Zahra Kazemi and reopen a criminal inquiry into her death in Iranian custody.

Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said he made the demands in a phone call to his Iranian counterpart.

A former Iranian doctor, who has been granted political asylum in Canada, said last week Ms Kazemi's injuries were as a result of torture.

Iran insists she died, in July 2003, after fainting and hitting her head.

"This morning I phoned the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran," Mr Pettigrew told the House of Commons on Tuesday.

He said he had told Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi that Iran should return the remains and allow an autopsy of the 54-year-old Iranian-born Canadian journalist.

Ms Kazemi was arrested in June 2003 after taking photos of demonstrations outside a Tehran prison.

'Brutal sexual assault'

She died in a Tehran hospital on 10 July 2003 after falling into a coma, having received head injuries during more than three days of interrogation.

Former Iranian military doctor Shahram Azam - who was granted refugee status after arriving in Canada last week - said he had seen Ms Kazemi when she was brought to hospital, unconscious and on a stretcher.

He told a press conference in Ottawa that, upon examination, he found horrendous injuries ranging from a broken nose to a ruptured eardrum, lash marks and evidence of brutal sexual assault.

The Iranian government - which carried out an inquiry into her death - said his allegations were "baseless and completely false", and claimed no-one named Shahram Azam had ever worked in the hospital.

Last year, Iran's judiciary acquitted an intelligence agent charged with Ms Kazemi's murder and said she died after hitting her head during a fainting fit.

Mr Pettigrew said on Monday there was no doubt Ms Kazemi had been murdered and described Iran's position as "unacceptable".

"Iran is in the wrong, it was murder, and that is why we brought the doctor here, to clearly show the facts," he said.

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