Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, who headed the legal team of slain journalist Zahra Kazemi’s family, tells Radio Farda that the court did not follow the penal code and the trial law, when it abruptly ended the trial of an intelligence agent accused in Kazemi’s death in custody, and refused the lawyers’ motions for further investigation to identify the real perpetrators. July 25, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi slams the judiciary for the handling of the investigation into Canadian-Iranian photojournalist’s death in custody case. The court should have ordered more investigation, instead of abruptly ending the trial, she tells Radio Farda’s broadcaster Fereydoun Zarnegar
The case was murder, and it had be tried in the province level penal court before a panel of five judges, Ms. Ebadi says.
Zahra Kazemi died on July 10, 2003, from brain hemorrhage, due to a blow to her head during interrogation at the Evin prison, where she had been taken after photographing prisoners’ relatives gathered outside. The judiciary identified Mohammad-Reza Aqdam Ahmadi, an intelligence ministry agent as the killer, and charged him with semi-involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of three years in prison.
“We protested against the trial’s venue, and we explained our problems with the investigation, which was incomplete, and moved the court to summon witnesses to testify, but the court did not pay attention to any of the issues we had raised,” she says.
The court acquitted the only defendant for lack of enough evidence. Since the perpetrator could not be determined, the court ruled that Zahra Kazemi’s blood money, which is naturally half of a man’s, should be paid to her family from the treasury.
“According to the trial law, when the case file is incomplete, when the investigation is incomplete, the court can order further investigation, or send the case back to the prosecutor for further investigation,” she says.
“The court’s limited to the indictment only as far as the defendant is concerned; when A is charged with murder, the court cannot convict B, but can order the prosecution to complete the investigation,” she says.