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Iranian Judiciary, Parliament Divided Over Death of Canadian Journalist - 2003-08-27


The death of a Canadian journalist in Iran is causing battle lines to be drawn between Tehran's reformist members of parliament and the conservative judiciary.

Reformist deputies in Iran's parliament are blaming agents in the conservative-controlled judiciary for the killing of Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Canadian citizen born in Iran.

Ms. Kazemi was arrested June 23 for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison. She died July 10 from a brain hemorrhage caused by a blow to her head.

An official investigation concluded the blow to Ms. Kazemi's head was delivered after she had been taken into custody.

During a debate in parliament Wednesday, a prominent reformist deputy, Moshen Armin, said the person who struck Ms. Kazemi was a member of the judiciary. He also alleged that 20 to 25 witnesses who saw Ms. Kazemi being hit were detained for two days to insure they retracted their statements.

On Monday, Tehran's prosecutor said two agents from the reformist Intelligence Ministry had been charged in the journalist's death. The ministry vehemently denied the allegation, saying the truth would be made known to the public.

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