Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

Montreal court hears lawsuit against Iranian government by son of photographer who was beaten to death

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 2 February 2009
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Montreal court hears lawsuit against Iranian government by son of photographer who was beaten to death, 2 February 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/498ab631f.html [accessed 22 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Reporters Without Borders voices its support for the civil lawsuit that Stephan Hachemi has brought against the Iranian government before the Quebec high court claiming damages for the arrest, detention, torture and death of his mother, Zahra Kazemi, a photographer with dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship, in Tehran in 2003. A preliminary three-day hearing was due to begin in Montreal tomorrow, but it has been postponed to May.

"Iran has displayed a clear desire to ensure that those responsible for Kazemi's murder remain unpunished," Reporters Without Borders said. "The authorities of Canada and the European Union should actively support the legitimate requests made by the Kazemi family's lawyers and show no leniency towards Iran in this appalling affair."

A Canadian resident, 54-year-old Kazemi was arrested on 23 June 2003 as she was photographing the relatives of detainees outside Evin prison in north Tehran. She was beaten while in custody and died of her injuries on 10 July 2003. The Iranian authorities issued a report 10 days later recognising her death was the result of a blow but failing to explain how it was inflicted.

Under duress, Kazemi's mother, an Iranian resident, agreed to a hasty burial on 22 July 2003. Ever since then, Kazemi's son, who lives in Canada, has been asking for the body to be exhumed and repatriated to Canada.

The Kazemi family's lawyers have repeatedly condemned all the judicial proceedings in Iran as a sham. Their requests for senior judicial officials to appear in court have never been satisfied, depriving them of key witnesses. Above all, Tehran chief prosecutor Said Mortazavi, who ordered Kazemi's arrest and was present when she was interrogated in Evin prison, has never been questioned in court.

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