Head of the society for defense of human rights in Iran said his group and other international human rights advocates will ask the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate the judiciary’s handling of Zahra Kazemi’s death in custody trial, and urge Canada to take the case to the International Court of Justice. July 19, 2004 – “We ask that Canada take this case to the International Court of Justice, and the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate the case,” Paris-based lawyer and human rights advocate Abdolkarim Lahiji tells Radio Farda’s broadcaster Fariba Mavedat, after a court in Tehran on Sunday abruptly ended murder trial of an intelligence agent for the death in custody of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.
“I am certain that next Fall, when the UN General Assembly convenes, the Islamic Republic will find itself facing another resolution, which, like last year’s, will condemn the continuing violation of human rights in Iran and the handling of Zahra Kazemi’s death in custody case,” he adds.
“As a lawyer, it was clear to me from the outset that the Islamic Republic judiciary would somehow whitewash this case, as it did with other similar cases, to protect higher officials, and at the helm of them, (Tehran prosecutor) Said Mortazavi,” he adds.
An investigation by a presidential panel blamed Kazemi's death on blow to her head during interrogation. In a speech at the Majles last year, MP Mohsen Armin accused the Tehran prosecutor of involvement in the killing, and called for further investigation.
Lahiji says, “As the legal advisor of Kazemi’s son Stephan Hachemi, my advice to him and to the Canadian government is to take this case to the International Court of Justice, because this is a fight between the Iranian and Canadian governments over the treatment in Iran of a Canadian citizen.”
“We are appalled at the denial of justice, because the court was abruptly interrupted,” Celine Kaz, a spokesperson for the Paris-based press freedom advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontiers, tells Radio Farda. “This trial was nothing but a show and we have concluded that we can no longer expect Iranian officials to bring the perpetrators of Kazemi’s murder to justice.”
RSF has encouraged Canadian officials to take a tough stand against Iran, she says, adding that her organization is pleased that Canada recalled its ambassador from Tehran. “We have asked the EU to do more to press Iranian authorities to improve human rights conditions in Iran, she adds.
Meanwhile, cabinet spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said Khtami government would not accept the court’s verdict against the accused. He adds that if the judiciary convicts the defendant, the intelligence ministry will protest, because “everyone knows that he is innocent, and the cabinet will do its best to prove his innocence.”